A HOLIDAYMAKER who raped a young girl who was staying in the same seaside house in Cornwall has been jailed for 13 years.

Keith Barons plied the 13-year-old girl with vodka when she was staying alone with him and his daughter at the house and then picked her up from her bed and raped her.

A Judge at Exeter Crown Court praised the courage of the victim who could not face going to the police for almost 20 years after her ordeal and then suffered a three and a half year wait for justice.

She read her victim personal statement aloud from the witness box and looked Barons in the eye as she told him that he had ruined her life and that she would never forgive him.

Recorder Mr Donald Tait told her it had taken tremendous courage to report the rape in the first place, to endure the wait for the case to be dealt with, and to confront her abuser in court.

Barons repeatedly denied the rape and his trial was postponed by the barrister’s strike last year before he finally admitted his guilt just a week before the case was due to be tried.

He had already tried to put his hands up the girl’s top and touch her breasts a few months before the rape but on that occasion, she told him to stop and he did so.

She thought that meant she would be safe when she joined him at the holiday home but instead he used her visit as an opportunity to carry out a much more serious assault.

Barons, aged 66, of Court Drive, Cullompton, admitted rape and indecent assault and was jailed for a total of 13 years.

The Judge told him: “Over 20 years ago, you committed a dreadful offence against a girl when she was 12 and 13 at a time when you were in your early 40s. She finally had the courage to report the matters in 2019 and you denied it and denied it and denied it.

“What you did was appalling and had had an awful effect on her life. She had the courage to read her own victim personal statement. What a huge amount of courage that must have taken from her.

“In my experience, very few women have been able to do that, but she did. When she told you she would never forgive you, she looked you in the eye. Whether you looked back is another matter.

“Anyone listening to her statement could not fail to be moved by it. You now express remorse, but for years and years you lied and lied. It was she and her close family that have had to suffer.

“I have no doubt that when you raped her, you plied her with alcohol to reduce her resistance. That is an aggravating factor.”

Miss Heather Hope, prosecuting, said the first sexual assault happened in about 1999 and the rape the next year when the girl was 13 and visiting Barons at a holiday home where he was staying in Cornwall.

Another member of his family was out for the night and Barons was left in charge of the girl and his own daughter and gave them vodka and orange drinks.

He waited until they were both asleep and then carried the girl from her bed into another room where he raped her even though she was on her period. She froze and was unable to stop him.

Her victim impact statement said that she has lived with years of irrational self-blame.

She said: “He changed my life. I was a precocious bubbly child who did not want to grow up. I just wanted to go to the beach.

“He broke my heart and stole my body and my trust and gave me a sense of self-loathing. Since that day I have not felt truly well and I don’t know if I ever will again.”

Mr Simon Burns, defending, said Barons has lived a blameless life before and since and is a hard working family man who had written a letter of apology.

He said: “He is appreciated as a husband and a father and his family find what has happened to be completely shocking. There is another side of this man. He hangs his head in shame and offers a heartfelt apology.”