Nairobi News

NewsWhat's Hot

British paedophile jailed for defiling Kenyan street boys

A British paedophile who defiled young street boys in Kenya for 16 years has been sentenced to 17 years in prison by a UK court.

Simon Harris had been found guilty on December 16, last year, of abusing young Kenyan boys, as well as possessing indecent images of children, when he was working as the director of a children’s charity in Kenya.

The trial against him represented an innovative use of technology and a unique collaboration between UK an Kenya police and human rights agencies, including the International Justice Mission (IJM), Kenya.

The victims said Harris sexually assaulted them and threatened them with violence when he was living there from 1996 to 2013.

The boys come from extremely difficult backgrounds. Most are orphans, and all of them spent time living in poverty on the streets.

COMMITTED SUICIDE

Many of the survivors who participated in the trial have still not disclosed the abuse to their families or community for fear of additional stigma and shame.

One of the boys who testified during the trial committed suicide on December 7, days before the verdict.

Their testimonies appeared in a British courtroom via live-streaming video from Kenya, more than 6,500 miles away.

Harris, a former head of the gap-year charity VAE, was found guilty of eight charges of assaulting children and four counts of possessing indecent images.

Witnesses described how Harris would invite vulnerable boys to his house near Gilgil, known as “The Green House”, using gifts of money or food, and then give them odd jobs or a place to stay to gain their trust.

Harris then sexually abused them in his bed, and many victims say he threatened to hurt them if they told anyone. This abuse went on for years.

“Harris is among the most prolific child sex offenders I have ever come across,” Kelvin Lay, senior investigation officer from Britain’s Child Online Exploitation and Online Protection unit (CEOP).

BRITISH DOCUMENTARY

Allegations of Harris’ abuse were brought to light in early 2013 by a British documentary crew profiling the street children.

They reported the case to British police, who travelled to Kenya and invited help from Kenyan police and IJM staff in gathering evidence and interviewing potential victims.

IJM social workers facilitated key psychosocial support as each victim came forward.

Harris was charged under the UK’s Sexual Offences Act of 2003, which allows British nationals to be held accountable for abuse committed abroad-the first time this law has been used for offences in Africa. Harris denied all of the charges from Kenya.

When the trial began in the UK in October 2014, IJM Social Worker Esther Njuguna acted as lead translator and aftercare support for witnesses testifying on live video from Kenya.

This made it possible for each victim’s story to be heard in a comfortable environment, allowing the truth to come to light without interference.