Sir Thomas Hetherington was the Director of Public Prosecutions for England and Wales from 1977 to 1987, and was the first head of the Crown Prosecution Service for the year after it was founded in 1986.
Sir Thomas Hetherington
In 1986, a police case collapsed after Hetherington refused to bring a prosecution against two men who were accused of sexually abusing a girl over a period of seven years, starting when she was eight years old. He ruled that there was “no independent evidence to support her claims”, in other words there were no witnesses other than the victim herself. The girl had disclosed the years of sexual abuse after watching Esther Rantzen’s Childline.
After the case was abandoned, the girl’s family were subjected to “an eight-month hate campaign” which culminated in her father being led into an ambush and shot with a sawn-off shotgun. The family blamed Kent police of failing to protect them.
Although only two men had been accused of sexual abuse, the girl’s father was confronted by a group of six men and a woman before being murdered. His killer, Kenneth Mockford (known as Ray), was convicted of manslaughter and was jailed for just three and a half years.
In January 2014, Kenneth Mockford was jailed for six years for sexually abusing a 5 year old girl. Judge Martin Joy said “I cannot think of a worse case in relation to these offences on a five year old”, but was constrained by maximum sentences at the time of the offences, which had been committed 30 years before.
Thanks to the actions of the DPP Sir Thomas Hetherington, Mockford wasn’t convicted of child sex offences until he was 70 years old. His accomplice(s) also walked free in 1986. Hetherington’s ruling of “no independent evidence” was not applied consistently in cases involving child sexual abuse, and similar cases were successfully prosecuted. So why did the DPP allow Kenneth Mockford to escape justice?
Daily Express, 1st July 1987
Daily Express, 2nd July 1987
Kent Online, 21st January 2014
Offham killer Kenneth Mockford jailed over sick sex acts with girl of five
A convicted killer who committed “abhorrent” sex offences dating back 30 years has been jailed for six years – the maximum sentence available to the judge.
Pensioner Kenneth Mockford, of Church Road, Offham, West Malling, denied six charges of indecency with a child, but was convicted.
Judge Martin Joy imposed three consecutive terms of two years under legislation that existed at the time the offences were committed. Had it been under “new law”, the sentence could have been 11 to 17 years.
Maidstone Crown Court heard he forced a five-year-old girl to perform sex acts on him while telling her they were playing “cowboys and cowgirls”.
“He said that’s what cowgirls did as a matter of routine,” said prosecutor Piers Reed. “But he told her she must not tell her parents or anyone else.”
The 70-year-old, known as Ray, who previously lived in Kingfisher Road, Larkfield, was jailed for three-and-a-half years in 1988 for manslaughter and shortening a shotgun barrel.
In July last year, he was given a suspended sentence for possessing a firearm without a certificate.
Simon Wickens, defending, said Mockford continued to strenuously deny the allegations.
The court, he said, had to be cautious when considering whether or not to impose the maximum sentence.
Judge Joy said following conviction in November: “It may well be that members of the public would rightly consider that because of the gap left in the legislation there could be serious under-sentencing.”
He also called Mockford “a highly manipulative rapist”.
The judge told him he might well deserve a sentence “way above the prescribed maximum at the time of the offences”.
“I am restrained by the law,” he said. “I cannot think of a worse case in relation to these offences on a five-year-old. There is no question in my mind I should pass the maximum sentence.
“A submission is made there could be worst cases and I should not pass the maximum sentence. That is a submission with which I do not agree. These are utterly abhorrent offences.”
Mockford’s name will appear on the sex offenders’ register for 10 years.