A remorseless paedophile repeated the word ‘rubbish’ under his breath as he heard he had ruined the lives of his three victims.

British Army veteran Gerald ‘Gerry’ Raffell, now 74, groomed the three teenagers when he worked at care homes in Yarnton and near Wallingford in the 1980s, giving the boys cigarettes and plying them with alcohol.

Among his sickening assaults on three boys in his care, one was molested with a rubber bullet, another was sexually assaulted in his dormitory, and a third was touched in the bathtub.

The rubber bullet assault was said to have been the ‘reward’ in a supposed ‘soldier’s game’ played by Raffell and in recognition for being a ‘top soldier’.

In victim personal statements read to Oxford Crown Court on Friday (February 17) by prosecutor David Dainty, the three boys spoke of the devastating impact the care home predator had had on their lives as both children and adults.

Mr Dainty’s oration was accompanied by a chuntering of ‘rubbish’ from Raffell, who was sitting in the dock wearing a pair of headphones to help him hear to prosecutor.

One of the three men – the victim of the rubber bullet assault – said of Raffell: “He robbed me of a future and my freedom was taken away from me.”

The children had effectively been ignored by the authorities. “No one listened to us,” the man said in his statement.

That echoed the evidence of the boys, given during the trial, who said the police collecting them after they ran away did not ask why.

“They didn’t really care, you know,” one of the victims said.

Raffell, who in 1988 was convicted of similar sexual assaults, claimed that none of the alleged sexual offending at the two care homes took place.

Jurors found him guilty of four assaults on two of the victims at a trial last year. No verdicts could be reached on a third victim, but he pleaded guilty to the two counts of indecent assault when he returned to court last month for the retrial.

Defending, Rishy Panesar accepted on Friday that his client’s failure to plead guilty meant there was little that could be said by way of mitigation. Raffell had significant health problems and was currently undergoing radiotherapy.

Jailing him for 11 years, Judge Maria Lamb said: “Your victims have carried with them for the rest of their lives what you did to them when they as teenage boys were in your care over 30 years ago. These were boys who looked on you as a father figure and you were a man in your late 30s.

“They were in desperate circumstances: isolated, without the support of their families, and you betrayed their trust."

She added: “I have heard, as we all have, the victim personal statement read out to this court which talk about the effects of what you did upon each of these individuals.

“All can understand that they may feel that the sentences which this court imposes can never reflect the enormity of what was done to them.

“But I hope they have at least the consolation of know that they faced their abuser in court and they were believed by the jurors that heard this case.”

He will be on the sex offender register for life and was given an indefinite sexual harm prevention order and restraining orders banning him from contacting the three victims.

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This story was written by Tom Seaward. He joined the team in 2021 as Oxfordshire's court and crime reporter.  

To get in touch with him email: Tom.Seaward@newsquest.co.uk

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