Heir to aristocrat Castle Howard, 65, avoids jail after being declared unfit to stand trial
An aristocrat sexually assaulted a six-year-old girl, a court found, and was also charged with attempting to rape a woman who were both overnight guests at one of Grande- Brittany.
But Simon Howard, 65, escaped yesterday with an absolute shock after recent brain damage he suffered in a fall at home made him unfit to stand trial.
Justice might have been possible without what the judge described as an “unacceptable” three-year delay for the prosecution to bring the case to court. Howard’s “genuine” fall at home occurred two years after the first victim surrendered to the police.
Due to “irreparable” brain damage, he could not be tried or sentenced to prison.
Aristocrat Simon Howard, 65, sexually assaulted a six-year-old girl, found a court, and was also charged with attempting to rape a woman who were both overnight guests in one of the Britain’s most famous mansions
The incidents reportedly took place at Castle Howard, the stately home in North Yorkshire used for the filming of the hit Netflix series Bridgerton (pictured)
Both incidents are said to have taken place decades ago in Castle Howard, the stately home in North Yorkshire used for the filming of the hit Netflix series Bridgerton and the television and film versions of Brideshead Revisited.
Last month, a trial in York Crown Court ended with a jury ruling that Howard sexually assaulted the girl in the mid-1980s and instigated her to commit an act of gross indecency.
The jury heard poignant testimony from the victim, now a mother in her 40s, and Howard’s subsequent denial to police. In a victim impact statement read out in court yesterday, the woman, who reported the incident to her mother at the time, said she believed the sexual abuse of her had been “swept under the carpet.” An earlier court hearing learned that his family had done nothing because of Howard’s social status.
The alleged attempted rape victim came forward after hearing about the child abuse charges earlier this year.
She had previously told close family members how Howard attempted to rape her in bed at night in the mid-2000s, but was “counseled and encouraged to conclude” that it would be a “traumatic experience” to report him. .
This allegation was dropped after the prosecution decided it was not in the public interest to take the case to a second fact-finding trial. The decision was taken after consultation with the complainant.
In her statement detailing Howard’s alleged sexual assault, she said she was spending the night at Castle Howard when he entered her bedroom.
She said: ‘I was woken up shaken and opened my eyes to see him kneel beside my bed and look at my face. He wanted to ask me what time I wanted to have lunch.
She said he had then “just pounced on me pinning me to the bed and I just couldn’t believe it”. I said, “Get off Simon, get off, what are you doing?” She said he sexually assaulted her and asked her to perform a sexual act. She believed he was trying to rape her.
Howard (left) pictured with his second wife Rebecca Howard (right), with whom he has two children, outside Castle Howard
The woman ran into the bathroom and was chased by Howard who allegedly “jumped” on her again when she got out. The court heard when she was signing the guestbook to leave, Howard reportedly said, “Shouldn’t you have said thank you for not having me.” The court heard that there was no proof that she had signed the book.
The sexual assault on the little girl was said to have taken place about 20 years earlier. Howard was accused of sexually assaulting the child and asking him to do an indecent act when she entered his bedroom to find his first wife, who has since died.
During his interview with the police, the victim said that his life had been “haunted” by the events of that morning. She said: “The real horror of what happened to me was part of my childhood, my childhood. It was a bad thing and a rather confusing thing that happened and I never understood it. One of the factors that pushed her to come forward decades later was Howard’s support for an NSPCC Christmas fair, which she found “shocking.”
Howard was interviewed in July 2018 and recalled the incident. Prosecutor Michael Smith said, “He said he woke up to find a child asleep in his bed.
He said he turned around and fell asleep again. He said he had done nothing wrong, although he admitted that the child’s mother accused him of touching the girl.
In her victim impact statement described by Mr Smith, the victim said it affected her relationship with her mother and “lost faith in the adults who should have protected her”.
She said that “no one could speak for her at the time and the abuse was swept under the carpet, something that was not talked about, and she felt like it was her. ashamed to be covered and not his “.
Sentencing yesterday, Judge Sean Morris said the only option available to him under the law was “absolute discharge”.
Howard resigned from the management of Castle Howard (pictured) in 2015 amid an apparent falling out with his older brother Nicholas, 68, who took over and moved into the beautiful ancestral home with his family
He said Howard should automatically sign the sex offender registry for five years.
Howard was not in court or watching the proceedings via the Internet. Howard married his first wife Annette ‘Scruff’ Howard in 1983. Their marriage ended in divorce after 16 years and Annette died last year at the age of 71.
Howard, who remarried and had two children with his second wife Rebecca, resigned from Castle Howard in 2015 amid an apparent falling out with his older brother Nicholas, 68, who took over and moved into the magnificent ancestral home with his family.
Simon Howard has moved to Welham Hall, a country house about ten miles away, but the separation from the family has clearly been a personal blow.
Ms Howard said in an interview in 2018: “My husband was born there, my kids grew up there and I felt proud and privileged to be a part of his story. We had so many happy times, but all of these memories have been tarnished.
The property, owned by his family for generations, was designed by Sir John Vanbrugh and built in the early 1700s. Before the pandemic, around 250,000 people visited the world each year.
Few of those many admirers of the architecture, the follies in the beautiful gardens, and the television and film fame of Castle Howard will have had the slightest idea of what was going on behind the gates of the stately home.
After the court hearing, his wife Rebecca Howard said in a statement: “Had this case been taken to court before my husband’s horrific accident last year or even while his first wife was still alive , I have no doubt that the outcome of these allegations would have been in his favor.