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Rapist’s jaw drops as judge hands him 25-year sentence

A rapist looked stunned as he was jailed for 25 years for sexually assaulting two teenage girls.

Francis Ward refuses to accept that he raped one of the teenagers and sexually assaulted the other even after being found guilty earlier this year. The two girls and their families confronted him in court today and celebrated as the sex offender was led into the cells.

He was speechless when Judge Robert Trevor-Jones sentenced him to a long prison term. David Birrell, prosecuting, said Ward, of Fox Street, Liverpool, made his first attacks on a girl before targeting the second girl.

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He said that after being arrested, Ward, who turned his head away from the victims seated in the public gallery for much of the hearing, denied that the attacks took place. Mr Birrell said: ‘He was arrested and taken into custody. He was interrogated and answered “without comment” to every question.”

Ward’s denials continued throughout his hearings, including the trial. Jurors found him guilty of the March 18 attacks. Jonathan Duffy, defending, said Ward still disagreed with the jury’s verdict. Mr Duffy said: ‘As your honor knows from hearing the trial and what is said in the pre-sentence report, the defendant does not agree with the verdicts of the jury but he respects them and understands that your honor will have to convict him on the facts as the jury found them.

One of the girls addressed the court today, explaining how Ward’s attack caused her to consider taking her own life. A statement from the second daughter, read by Mr Birrell, described similar psychological trauma.

Judge Robert Trevor-Jones told Ward that his actions continued to have far-reaching consequences for both girls. He said: “Each of them has clearly articulated lasting trauma and scarring. As far as they are concerned, I am convinced that you have inflicted great harm on them.

Judge Trevor-Jones added that Ward’s continued denials during his trial forced the two girls to “relive the horrors of this abuse, branding them liars in the process”. He jailed Ward for 18 years for the rape and sexual assault of one of the girls and seven years for the sexual assault of the other.

The length of the sentence seemed to take Ward by surprise. He was speechless and shook his head several times after the verdict was announced before being taken to the cells.