A 69-year-old man with severe lung disease, who may have less than two years to live, has this week been warned by a judge to expect an 11-year jail term after admitting a list of offences including rape, indecent assault and child cruelty – including one offence in Burnham-On-Sea.
Former publican David Furneaux, formerly of Dursley, Glos, but now of Exeter Rd, Exmouth, Devon, suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and needs oxygen because his lung capacity is only 25 percent.
Furneaux, who has also worked in building demolition, has recently been living in Spain for the benefit of his health but returned to the UK this week to stand trial on a total of 20 charges.
A jury was selected yesterday and the trial – involving offences committed in Dursley, Sidmouth, Burnham-On-Sea, Bristol and Spain – was due to get underway on Tuesday.
But when the case resumed, defence barrister Paul Grumbar asked the judge, Jamie Tabor QC, if he would give an indication of the maximum sentence he would pass if Furneaux were to plead guilty.
The judge said he would not pass a maximum of more than 11 years. After talks with his barrister Furneaux returned to court and admitted 13 charges, denying 7 others.
Prosecutor Ray Tully said the pleas were acceptable and the 7 outstanding charges could lie on the court file without being proceeded with.
Mr Grumbar asked for an adjournment for medical reports to be prepared and he requested bail pending Furneaux’s sentence in six weeks time.
But Judge Tabor refused bail – although he allowed Furneaux half an hour to make arrangements with his brother Robert, who accompanied him to court, for a supply of oxygen and medication to be brought into the building to hand over to prison warders.
The charges Furneaux admitted involved a woman, three girls and two boys. He pleaded guilty to raping the woman twice between July 1975 and December 1984.
He also admitted five offences of indecent assault on a girl between January 1974 and November 1978, two offences of sexually assaulting another girl in July last year, cruelty to that girl and two boys aged under 16 between July 1975 and May 1985 and indecent assault of another girl between August 1987 and June 1989.
After today’s hearing Mr Tully said the offences had been committed at locations across Gloucestershire, Somerset, Devon and Spain at times when Furneaux was living and working in those areas.