Hull septuagenarian sent to prison for preying on Kenyan girls

A British man who allegedly befriended vulnerable families in Kilifi county in Kenya, and then abused their children, has reportedly been sentenced to 18 years and six months in prison.

In May, Keith Morris from Hull in the United Kingdom, was found guilty of sex offences against young girls he met while on holiday in Mombasa between January 2016 and February 2017.

The BBC reported on Thursday that the 72-year-old used his elevated status among villagers to groom young girls by taking them on trips. He also bought them meals and let them stay in hotel rooms with him, Leeds Crown Court heard.

A British couple reported Morris to the police for what they regarded as odd behaviour with the children and the UK National Crime Agency in collaboration with Kenya’s National Police Service and Child Protection Unit launched investigations into the matter.

According to Nairobi News, Morris was charged with child abuse — which he denied — kick-starting a three-week trial that saw some of the victim’s testify through video link from Mombasa.

He was given a sexual harm prevention order and banned from having any unsupervised contact with children and ultimately convicted of four counts of rape, four counts of assault by penetration, two charges of sexual assault and two counts of perverting the course of justice.

During his trial, the court heard how Morris, repeatedly visited the East African country on holiday over a period of about 20 years, and was seen as a “patriarchal figure” in the village.

One of his victims had recently lost her father and was described as the “weakest of the girls in the village” in court.

In defence, he claimed that he was “like a parent” to the girls and they enjoyed staying with him in hotels for the luxury.

“When you have seen people living in these conditions, it’s something you just grow into … I would love to spend millions of pounds helping, but I was just a drop in the ocean,” Morris reportedly told the jury.

The abuse only stopped when Morris was arrested in February 2017. After the arrest he attempted to transfer money to people he knew in Kenya in order to convince them to help clear his name.

He also contacted the girls to ask them to recant their claims against him.

Morris allegedly told one victim he would help fund her school fees if she lied to police, she later told officers she feared she would starve without his support.

Judge Robin Mairs said during Morris’s sentencing: “You were a benefactor to the residents of this village, especially the children. There is no doubt that you used your elevated and financially powerful position to access the girls.”

“You preyed upon the most vulnerable of the most vulnerable,” Mairs said.

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Sarah Smit
Sarah Smit
Sarah Smit is a general news reporter at the Mail & Guardian. She covers topics relating to labour, corruption and the law.
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