Mencap has described the sentencing of a care worker who raped a
woman with severe learning difficulties to 12 years in prison as a
“one in a million” case, writes Sally
The charity’s director of public affairs, David Condon,
said he was “very pleased” that Phillip Kambeta, an illegal
immigrant, who forged references to gain employment as a care
worker and then raped a 24-year-old woman with a mental age of a
two-year-old, had got a 12-year sentence.
But he stressed that her case was very rare. According to
Mencap, there are at least 1,400 cases of sexual abuse against
people with learning difficulties every year, but only six per cent
Condon said difficulties in obtaining forensic evidence, and the
abused individual’s ‘lack of credibility’ as a witness, were
obstacles to securing convictions against abusers.
“The issue is that some people will not know they are being
abused. If they do know and they tell someone, they are often
disbelieved. Even if they are eventually believed, very often there
is no forensic evidence and the issue for the police is also
whether they think the person will be believed when the case goes
to court,” he said.
Kambeta’s rape of the woman, who lived in a residential
home in Nottingham, was only discovered when she became pregnant
and DNA tests were carried out. She had a termination.
He had been sent to work at the home by Allied Medicare agency,
which failed to check his references.
Mencap is currently running a campaign Behind Closed
Doors with Voice UK, a charity that provides support and
information to adults and children who have experienced crime or
abuse, and learning difficulties charity Respond.
It calls for the law around abuse of people with learning
difficulties to be reformed to make sex with a person who is unable
to consent an offence that carries a life sentence.
Current law states that it is an offence to have sex with a
woman who is a “defective”, but it is rarely used and it carries a
maximum sentence of two years.
Kathryn Hopkins, director of Voice UK, said: “Tighter
regulations via the introduction of the Care Standards Act will
close a lot of the loopholes that allow abuse. But we also need sex
with people with learning difficulties to become a specific
criminal offence. It cannot surely be right that these sorts of
cases only come to light when someone becomes pregnant.”