More than 50 years on, a paedophile is convicted of sexually assaulting a young girl in York

Keith Ryman

He was already in jail for a string of child sex offences – but thought he had evaded justice for one of his crimes.

But now Keith Ryman has been jailed for a further two-and-a-half years for sexually assaulting a girl more than 50 years ago.

Ryman, 76, appeared before York Crown Court – sitting at Doncaster Crown Court due to the need for disabled access for the defendant – on Friday (13 September) after being found guilty of the offence committed in the York area in 1968.

He was still going by his former name of Keith Leggett at the time, the court heard. Ryman befriended the girl’s parents and offered to care for her on an evening when she became ill.

He isolated her and sexually assaulted her in her bedroom.

Underwent therapy

York Crown Court. Photograph: Richard McDougall
The crime came to light when the victim underwent therapy 50 years later and recounted the events to her counsellor.

North Yorkshire Police were informed by the victim in March 2018 and launched an investigation.

Initially detectives believed that Keith Leggett was dead, but enquiries revealed that in 1980 he had changed his name by deed poll to Keith Ryman.

When Ryman was identified he was found to be awaiting trial on numerous child sex offences. He was sentenced to 16 years imprisonment at York Crown Court in October 2018.

He pleaded not guilty to the new charge and gave evidence in his own defence, denying this offence and also those crimes for which he was already serving a prison sentence.

The victim, her counsellor, family members and a family friend gave evidence for the prosecution.

The jury found Ryman guilty after around two hours of deliberation.

‘Cowardly attack’

Sentencing Ryman, the Recorder of York Judge Sean Morris praised the bravery of the victim in giving evidence at the trial.

Detective Constable John Atkinson, of York CID, led the investigation which helped to secure justice for the victim.

DC Atkinson said:

  • In 1968, Keith Leggett carried out a cowardly attack on a young child for his own sexual gratification leaving her to carry the burden of this secret for 50 years.

    This has had a marked effect on her life and it was very courageous of her to enter a court and give evidence against him.

    North Yorkshire Police will investigate all reports of sexual offences against children. This case highlights our commitment to bringing paedophiles to justice wherever possible, regardless of the passage of time.

    The reasons why Keith Leggett changed his name to Keith Ryman in 1980 are still unclear but are obviously a cause for concern, given that he went on to commit further sexual assaults on other children before being brought to justice in 2018.

DC Atkinson thanked the Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) for all the support they have given and continue to provide to the victim.

What to do if you’re a victim

Victims of such crimes are urged to contact North Yorkshire Police on 101.

If you are in immediate danger, always dial 999 for an emergency response.

Victims who would prefer not to go direct to the police and are not in immediate danger, can contact Bridge House, North Yorkshire’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), on 0330 223 0362 or email bridgehouse.sarc@nhs.net

You can also contact the Supporting Victims Unit direct or call 01609 643100.