Donald Raymond Liddington
Paedophile posed as priest to con family
Donald Raymond Liddington was the worst of conmen. He befriended vulnerable parents and helped them out so he could rape their daughters. Parents of his victims say the Hutt Valley cleaner was the archetypal paedophile who always had lollies and treats for the kids that they couldn't afford. He even convinced one family he was a minister, going to church and wearing a priestly collar.
But a week ago, Liddington (61) was jailed indefinitely after being found guilty of raping the pre-schooler grand-daughter of a woman he had lived with. It occurred after he was released after serving 3 and a half years of a six year sentence for 22 sexual offences involving seven young girls.
Sentencing him in the High Court at Wellington, Justice Goddard called Liddington a menace to children. His sentence of preventive detention means he will be inside for at least ten years and will then have to convince authorities he should be released.
Sergeant Marie Fitchett, the detective in charge of the Hutt Valley child abuse team which put Liddington away again, believes he will never get out. He pleaded not guilty to the rape and has always denied he has a problem. She is convinced he has preyed on many more, but some parents refuse to believe he could be a paedophile.
"He nurtures families to the extent that he becomes very trusted." But police, who prosecuted him in 1989 and were horrified at his short sentence, have no doubt. Patrols which found him out with young girls would return them to their parents but they would often ignore the warnings and send them out with him again.
"Privacy laws meant we had to tread very carefully. He had served his time and we couldn't victimise him - but we always have a role in prevention," said Sergeant Fitchett. Police moved him on from several jobs they believed he was using to hunt more victims. In 1994 Liddington began working under another name at a youth-at-risk programme in the area. The next year he was helping out at a Lower Hutt foodbank and befriending solo parents.
In 1996 he again used an alias to become a caretaker at a local school. He was there for five weeks before the police caught up with him. In 1997, staff at the local hospital became suspicious of a man dressing up as a priest, offering to help solo mums who had just given birth. He was there for just half a day. "Thankfully, staff realised something was up."
Police finally got the break they had been looking for when the grand-daughter of the woman he had been living with told a teacher, after a Keeping Ourselves Safe Programme at school, that she had been raped as a pre-schooler by Liddington. The grandmother left Liddington when the bombshell was dropped. She had met him in Rimutaka Prison, while visiting another friend, and didn't believe stories Liddington's ex-wife told about him.
"I was in love with the joker," she said. "Now I see he zoomed in on me like a predator." When she asked him about the sexual abuse allegations, he said only one had stood up in court and that the person had since recanted. "He'd led me to believe he was a minister, we went to church - different churches - most Sundays and he would wear the collar and everything."
The parents of the two girls who first put Liddington on the stand in 1989 say he should never have got out of jail the first time. They knew him for ten years. During that time their daughters introduced him to their friends - who in turn became his victims. The girl's father John said every Friday Liddington would take one of the girls to a heating shop he owned and feed them takeaways. "We thought he was being good to us - we were struggling."
They had no idea that in that shop, just 50 metres from the Lower Hutt Police station, he was abusing them. When one of them objected "he told her it was all right because he'd been doing it to her since she was in nappies," says Betty, their mother. John is amazed by the man's ability to lie. "He was brilliant. If he had been another type of conman he'd be a millionaire. But he's just one sick unit." Names have been changed to protect the identity of Liddington's victims.
Otago Daily Times story 20th June 1998
A Lower Hutt man has been jailed indefinitely for raping a pre-school girl while on parole for other child rapes. In the High Court at Wellington yesterday, Justice Goddard said Donald Raymond Liddington (61) was a committed paedophile whose failure to acknowledge his crimes made him a continued danger to children. After his release on parole, Liddington had formed a de facto relationship with a woman whose granddaughter came to stay once a month.
Some time between 1993 and 1995, Liddington had gone to her bedroom and raped her. The girl did not speak about what had happened until after a "good and bad touching" lesson during a "keeping ourselves safe" programme at school.
A jury had found Liddington guilty, but a psychiatric report said he continued to deny the rape and until he faced up to what he had done he was likely to remain a threat to young girls. In 1989, Justice Heron had warned Liddington he ran the risk of spending the rest of his life in jail if he offended again when Liddington got a six-year jail sentence for raping and molesting seven girls.
Date of Birth
16 May 1937
Sentenced for an indefinite period in June 1998
Parole refused March 2011
Has next hearing February 2012
Additional Photos & Files
Associated Media Links No alternative to prison for paedophile
Dying paedophile must stay in jail
OFFENCES / CONVICTIONS
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