A school caretaker who abused three sisters – one of whom took her life years later – cannot be prosecuted because of Alzheimer’s (Image: Ibbs family/Slater Gordon)
Get email updates with the day’s biggest stories
Invalid EmailSomething went wrong, please try again later.Sign upWe use your sign-up to provide content in ways you’ve consented to and to improve our understanding of you. This may include adverts from us and 3rd parties based on our understanding. You can unsubscribe at any time.More infoThank you for subscribingWe have more newslettersShow meSee ourprivacy notice
A primary school caretaker who left sweets in the desks of three sisters before abusing them in his boiler room has been spared prosecution because he has Alzheimer's.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) ruled a case against the caretaker couldn't be taken to court as his lack of memory would've kept him from getting a fair trial, the Liverpool Echo reports.
The sexual abuse happened in the 1980s at a school in Formby, Merseyside, and two of the sisters took their case three times to police in 1992, 1993 and again in 2015.
Witness statements were provided, but in 2016, the CPS decided to take no further action.
Years later, one of the sisters took her own life, when an inquest heard about the toll the abuse took on her mental health.
The two surviving sisters have now waived their right to anonymity after securing an undisclosed financial settlement from Sefton Council after their lawyers argued that the council was vicariously culpable for the abuse suffered.
The siblings spoke out and believe other pupils may have been abused by the former caretaker.
Sarah Ibbs and her twin were sexually assaulted by him and it was later Sarah discovered her elder sister Rachel had also been victim to the man.
The twin never managed to get over the abuse and her life was plagued with difficulties until she tragically died in 2019.
Despite their grief, the sisters continued their fight for justice with Slater and Gordon specialist abuse lawyer Kim Harrison.
The case, against Sefton council, has recently settled for an undisclosed sum after lawyers argued the council were vicariously liable for the abuse suffered by the three girls at their primary school.
Now living in New Zealand, Sarah, 43, said: “The money has never mattered to us – it has never been about that.
"We just wanted to bring the case to a close in some way.
"We don’t feel that justice has been done but without the CPS pressing charges this was the furthest we could take it, and at least there has been some accountability.
“Each of us had different experiences of the caretaker – but he always left us sweets in our desks – that was like his signature thing.
“He said we were 'special friends' and that we must not tell anyone else.
“I didn’t know he had abused my sisters until years later. It was horrifying.
The case, against Sefton council, has recently settled for an undisclosed sum
"It wasn’t until more cases of this kind started getting reported on in the papers that any of us thought about going to the police again.
“When we were eventually interviewed it was so disappointing to be told he couldn’t be prosecuted.
“How could it not be in the public interest to protect children from harm from this man – who at that point still lived in the community?”
Kim Harrison, head of abuse law at Slater and Gordon, said: “All three of these women showed immense bravery in coming forward and reporting their allegations to the police.
"They have since been determined to speak out about what happened to them in the hope that their story might resonate with others out there and help them come to terms with similar abuse.
"It’s been a privilege to meet and work with them all.
“That determination is commendable and I know that both Sarah and Rachel took this battle on in the name of their sister who they sadly lost a few years ago.”
Sarah added: “The law is crazy, that whilst we couldn’t protect and defend ourselves as innocent young girls, the alleged health of our abuser means we can’t prosecute because he can’t defend himself – the hypocrisy.
"This man has impacted our whole family’s life for over 35 years, I only wish our sister could have seen that finally someone took us seriously and did believe us.”