Devon

Rape accused David James denies 'fleeing' to Florida from UK

A man extradited from Florida to face trial on rape and sexual offence charges has denied fleeing the UK to escape child sex allegations.

David James, of Skyline Drive, Orlando, is accused of 11 sexual offences dating back to the 1980s and 90s.

The 61-year-old truck engineer who used to live in Honiton, Devon and Wolverhampton in the West Midlands, denies the charges.

He told the jury at Exeter Crown Court he was "shocked" at the allegations.

Mr James had been living abroad for 10 years when he was arrested in April 2012 and extradited.

Wife is American

He is charged with two counts of rape, six of indecent assault and three counts of gross indecency, against girls aged under 14 and 16 in east Devon and the West Midlands.

The court previously heard Mr James called each of his victims "my little princess" and bought their silence with cash and sweets.

The father-of-five said he was aware of some allegations against him before he moved to America in 2002, but he told the court they had nothing to do with him leaving the country.

He said he had gone to the US with his partner Peggy, who is an American, and whom he had married more than 10 years ago.

"The first I knew of the extradition proceedings was when I was arrested last year," he said.

'Piggy-back rides'

"It was a complete shock to me but I agreed to come back to the UK voluntarily."

Mr James said he "had no idea" why the two women had made their allegations against him and said his only contact with them as children was when he gave them piggy-back rides in his garden in Honiton.

He knew the girls, he said, because they came to play with his sons, but he insisted he had never touched them sexually.

"They are not telling the truth. I have never had any sexual interest in young girls," he told the court.

"I did not move to America because I was worried about bumping into people who could remember things."

The trial continues.

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