A JUDGE has ordered the arrest of a pensioner who failed to turn up for court after being found guilty of raping a child.

Owen Goff, 68, of Chard, was convicted of a series of historic sexual offences at a trial at Exeter last month.

The most serious was the rape of a child and he had been warned he would go to jail.

Goff was due for sentence at Exeter Crown Court today (Monday) but failed to appear and Judge Timothy Rose issued a warrant for his immediate arrest.

He said the warrant would help police to check on the welfare of the pensioner.

Goff, originally from Chardstock, East Devon, but now of Jubilee Close, Chard, was found guilty of six counts of indecent assault and one of rape against a girl who was under 13 at the time.

The offences were committed when he was acting as a babysitter for a family who lived near Axminster in the early 1980s.

Emily Cook, defending, said Goff had been in regular contact with his solicitors until today, when they had been unable to reach him.

She said he had arranged for a neighbour to look after his dog while he was in prison and had arranged a lift to court but apparently cancelled it yesterday.

She said: “He lives in a small community where he has lived all his life and I think it would be appropriate if an officer can go to his address."

Kelly Scrivener, prosecuting, said the victim has made an impact statement which will be read or summarised at the sentencing hearing.

Judge Rose said it would not be appropriate to sentence Goff in his absence at this stage. Speaking after the verdicts were delivered last month, he warned him that he faced a significant jail sentence.