A sexual predator who raped and abused young girls in the 1990s was jailed for 28 years today after a judge told him he was one of the “most evil” sex offenders he had ever come across.
Keith Merville Phillips, 64, described as a “monster”, groomed and preyed on the girls who were so scared of him some of them kept it secret for decades.
But the full weight of justice finally came down on the York man today when he was locked up for 28 years and told he must serve at least two-thirds of that sentence behind bars, by which time he will be 82 years’ old.
Judge Sean Morris, who considered a life sentence after hearing harrowing testimonies from the victims, delivered the swingeing sentence at York Crown Court after Phillips was convicted of 16 separate charges against the five victims, none of whom can be named for legal reasons.
Following a trial in November, a jury found Phillips guilty of all 16 charges, including five counts of rape, nine counts of indecent assault, one count of sexually assaulting a girl under 13 years of age and sexual activity with a child.
Many of the charges, including the rapes and indecent assaults, were “multiple-incident” counts, indicating numerous instances of sexual abuse, which one of the victims described as a “campaign of terror”.
The victims said that Phillips, of Cheviot Close, Huntington, had raped and abused them on countless occasions.
Prosecutor Richard Woolfall said that Phillips, described as “slimy and creepy”, was banking on the girls being too frightened to tell anybody about the serial abuse, which occurred between the late 1990s and 2018.
He said that Phillips had groomed the youngsters and told them not to tell anyone.
‘Ruined my life’
The two rape victims said they were abused on numerous occasions. Another girl was indecently assaulted on a bus. The two other young victims had been sexually assaulted in isolated incidents in more recent years.
One of the rape victims, now an adult, said that Phillips had “ruined my life” and caused her life to “spiral out of control”.
“It has stopped me trusting people…and I have nightmares all the time,” she added.
“He has made me feel like I’m worth nothing.”
The second rape victim, who was also very young when Phillips started abusing her and is now an adult, said she had suffered “lifelong” trauma due to the abuse she suffered at the hands of her tormentor.
She said the anguish would “last a lifetime” and that she hadn’t slept properly since being abused as a child.
It had affected “many aspects of my life” including her work, finances and personal life, and she had “massive trust issues” with people.
She described her childhood trauma as “horrific” which had led to profound mental-health issues.
“I spent 20-plus years (since the abuse) winding myself up, knowing what he had done to me,” she added.
“There was no doubt in my mind he was inflicting these crimes on some other poor girl. There was nothing I could do to stop him.”
She said she finally decided to come forward to police and give evidence because “I knew he would carry on with his campaign of terror”.
A third victim, who was sexually assaulted by Phillips, described him as a “monster”.
She said she had turned to alcohol to try to block out memories of Phillips’ wicked crimes, “yet the monster was still in my head”.
It had affected her sleep, she “cried at the slightest thing” and she was now a “shadow of the person I used to be”.
“I was an innocent child,” she added. “I’m trying to get back to the person I was. It’s eating away at me.”
Defence barrister Eleanor Fry said there were effectively “two blocks” of offending separated by years.
Judge Morris, the Recorder of York, told Phillips: “You are one of the most evil defendants I’ve come across.”
He said Phillips clearly had “no remorse” and was “completely devoid of emotion to your victims”.
He said the rape victims been caused “severe psychological harm” by a “campaign of rape”.
Mr Morris said Phillips had “come very close” to a life sentence and that if he had been sentenced consecutively for each of the many offences it would have been “stratospheric”.
He told Phillips he would be receiving a determinate sentence because he was “64 now and will be of some age when you get out”.
Phillips showed no emotion as he was given a 28-year jail sentence and told he must serve at least two-thirds of that before being considered for parole.
Once he is finally released from prison, he will serve the remainder of that sentence on an extended prison licence.
He was also placed on the sex-offenders’ register for life and slapped with a sexual-harm protection order to limit his contact with children. That order will also run for an indefinite period.