Sidmouth sex offender, 69, faces dying behind bars


- Credit: Archant

A pensioner - with less than two years to live - faces dying in prison after being warned to expect 11 years behind bars for admitting a catalogue of historic sex offences, including rape, indecent assault and child cruelty.

Former publican David Furneaux, 69, formerly of Dursley, Gloucester, but now of Exeter Road, Exmouth, who has also worked in building demolition, had been living in Almeria, Spain, for the benefit of his health, but returned to the UK this week to stand trial at Gloucester Crown Court on a total of 20 charges.

Furneaux, who suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and needs oxygen because his lung capacity is only 25 per cent, pleaded guilty to raping a woman twice between July 1975 and December 1984.

He also admitted five offences of indecent assault on a girl between January 1974 and November 1978, and two offences of sexually assaulting another girl in July last year. Furneaux admitted inflicting cruelty to a girl and two boys between July 1975 and May 1985 and indecently assaulting another girl between August 1987 and June 1989.

The court heard the offences were committed in Sidmouth, Dursley (in Gloucester), Burnham-on-Sea (in Somerset), Bristol and Spain at times when Furneaux was living and working in those areas.

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Defence barrister Paul Grumbar asked Judge Jamie Tabor QC for an indication of the maximum sentence he would pass if Furneaux were to plead guilty.

Judge Tabor said he would not pass a maximum of more than 11 years.

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After talks with his barrister, Furneaux returned to court and admitted 13 charges, denying seven other allegations. Prosecutor Ray Tully said the pleas were acceptable and agreed the seven outstanding charges could lie on the court file.

Furneaux’s barrister made a request for bail and a six-week adjournment while medical reports were prepared, but this was rejected.

Judge Tabor allowed Furneaux half an hour to make arrangements for a supply of oxygen and medication to be brought to court to hand over to prison warders.

White-haired Furneaux was transported to Bristol Prison with his medical equipment.

During the hearing, Mr Grumbar said Furneaux had been told around a decade ago his life expectancy would be 10 to 12 years.

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