Norwich sex offender jailed after years on the run

Justice finally caught up with a sex offender from Norwich yesterday when he was jailed after spending years on the run.

Harry Hillhouse, 49, was jailed for 11 years after he admitted abusing an eight-year-old boy in the Earlham area in 2002.

He fled from his home in Norwich in September 2002 after police called to speak to him about an unrelated matter. But it was not until January 2010 that he was finally apprehended when he was stopped by chance by police in London.

They discovered that he was listed as wanted because he had skipped bail after being arrested in London in November 2005. Yesterday Hillhouse, now of no fixed address, appeared at Ipswich Crown Court to be sentenced after pleading guilty to two offences of rape, two of indecently assaulting a child and two of indecency with a child aged under 13.

Hillhouse was jailed for a total of 11 years and ordered to sign on the Sexual Offences Register indefinitely.

Prosecutor Joanne Eley told the court that unknown to Hillhouse, his victim had been sexually abused in the same way by another man previously.

The offences committed by Hillhouse were over a five-week period between July and September 2002. Some took place in the lounge of a house in the Earlham area of Norwich and others in the bedroom of the boy's mother.

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Hillhouse had fled from his home in Norwich in September 2002 when police officers called to speak to him about an entirely unrelated matter, said Miss Eley.

It was at that time that the boy revealed details of the assaults which had been carried out on him by Hillhouse.

In November 2005 Hillhouse was arrested in London and then released on bail pending further enquiries. He was not seen again until January 2010 when he was by chance stopped in a street by police in the capital, said Miss Eley.

The other man who had previously abused the boy is already serving a prison sentence, the court heard.

David Martin-Sperry, mitigating, said that Hillhouse, who is in poor health and appeared in the dock in a wheelchair, had shown remorse for his crimes. Hillhouse had himself suffered four years of abuse while a child.

'He accepts that what he did was wrong. He is not, as so often the case, in denial about it,' said Mr Martin-Sperry.

Jailing him, Judge John Devaux told Hillhouse that his conduct had amounted to an abuse of trust and had involved repeated abuse, often taking place on a weekly basis.

Joanne Eley, prosecuting, said that in addition to physical abuse Hillhouse had made the boy look at indecent images on a computer.

Hillhouse had no previous convictions for sexual abuse although he did have a police caution recorded against him for possession of indecent images of a young girl.

David Martin-Sperry, defending, said Hillhouse had made no attempts to minimise his offending nor to place any blame on the boy for what happened.

Hillhouse had lived rough after leaving his home in Norwich and as a result his health had suffered. Mr Martin-Sperry described Hillhouse as now 'quite frail'.

Mr Martin-Sperry said: 'He disappeared because he realised that what he was doing was wrong.'