© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
Briton Jailed In Kenya Child Sexual Abuse Case
By Samuel Malik, Abuja
The British head of charity organisation, VAE, which is responsible for finding volunteers for schools in Kenya, Simon Harris, has be sentenced to more than 17 years in prison for sexually assaulting street boys in the East African country.
Harris abused the teenage boys, most of whom had no parents or anybody to take care of them, between 1996 and 2013.
He was convicted in December, last year, of 12 count charges including sexual abuse and possessing indecent images of children.
The case in Birmingham Crown Court, believed to be the first under a law that allows British citizens to be tried for offence committed abroad, is also the first to witness the use of video link to relay evidence from Africa.
The jury was told how Harris, a former teacher, targeted very small children who had no families, nobody to look after them, promising to care for them.
The aid worker had lived in Gilgil, a town in Kenya known for agriculture. There, he assumed a cult-like image that allowed him to abuse the children without question.
An aid worker in Kenya, Dan Nderitu, who had reported the case to Kenyan police, said they would not act simply because the boys were seen as street children whose word meant nothing.
“They are like small wild animals criss-crossing the streets, people don’t like them, people think that they are not good children,” he said.
Luck, however, ran out for Harris. In 2013, a team of filmmakers from England went to Gilgil to shoot a documentary about the problem the people faced and they discovered what had been going on.
Narrating their ordeals, one of the boys, now in his 30s, said going to Harris for help made it easy for the abuse to take place.
“We knew when we go to Mr Harris’ house, we will get food.. new clothes and [we] will get some money,” he said.
“When we saw his car we would always run after it (and) if Simon was specifically interested in you, he would tell you to remain in the car. Then he would take you to his house.”
Forty people alleged that they were abused when police opened investigation against the 55 years old, who also admitted to assaulting three teenage boys when he was a teacher at Shebbear College in the England in the 1980s.