A MAN used charm and generosity to manipulate two children who he went on to repeatedly rape.

Harry Fickling, 67, was today (Monday July 21) given a 25-year jail sentence for the catalogue of abuse inflicted on his two victims, in one case in the early 1980s and the other in the early ‘90s.

Durham Crown Court heard there was, “an element of sadism” to his behaviour, as some of the offences involved the use of tools, in one case a screw driver, causing one of the children “horrific pain”.

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He also threatened to burn one victim with a cigarette lighter and to kill their mother should they reveal what had taken place, while he also pretended he was going to throw the child into a bath full of scalding water.

Although a report over his activities was made by one of the children when a teenager, it was not pursued, but Fickling’s downfall came when the other victim heard of the complaint and made contact with the other.

A further complaint was made and Fickling was arrested, denying the allegations, claiming they had conspired against him and told lies.

But he was accused of a total of 19 charges, some accounting for specific events, others being specimen counts, covering the course of conduct.

The 67-year-old former painter and decorator, of James Street, Easington Colliery, denied all the allegations.

But he was convicted by a jury of five counts of rape, four of buggery and nine of indecent assault following a trial lasting 17 days last month.

The jury was discharged from consideration of a further count of indecent assault by Judge Christopher Prince after the verdicts were passed on the remaining charges.

Sentence was adjourned until today, pending preparation of a background report on Fickling by the Probation Service.

Quoting from the report, Judge Prince said: “It’s the opinion of the author that you do pose a risk for the future.”

Christine Egerton, for Fickling, said there was little to say in mitigation as he still denies committing the offences.

Judge Prince told Fickling he had chance to assess his character during the trial which took place over almost three weeks’ court time.

“You are articulate, intelligent, amusing, charming, plausible and convincing.

“You impress those around you and you are highly manipulative.

“But you put your intelligence and charm towards achieving your own sexual aims.”

Judge Prince said an aggravating feature was the “degree of sadism”, and the threats.

He also praised the “courage” of the two victims in making the complaint and assisting the prosecution to help put Fickling behind bars.

Impact statements made by the victims, which were read to the court, spoke of their relief at finally being believed and both said they hope it will ensure no others would suffer at his hands.

As the sentence is governed by the law at the time of the offences, Fickling will not be released until he is 83, and will remain subject to licence conditions until the age of 92.

He must also sign the Sex Offenders’ Register for life.