Ralph Clarke
Ralph Clarke leaves Birmingham crown court after the first day of his trial. Joe Giddens/ PA

A 101-year-old man, thought to be the oldest person convicted in a British court, has been found guilty of historic sex offences against young girls.

Ralph Clarke, from Erdington, Birmingham, sexually assaulted two young girls in the 1970s and early 1980s.

The pensioner, who was born in 1915, had denied abusing the girls, but admitted to sexually assaulting a young boy partway through the trial.

He was convicted of 21 counts of abuse against the girls at Birmingham Crown Court on Friday (16 December).

His victims plucked up the courage to report the offences to West Midlands Police in August last year after seeing Facebook posts celebrating Clarke's 100th birthday.

The police enquiry established a catalogue of offences by Clarke against the girls, spanning multiple years.

Police said the retired lorry driver abused the girls, who were aged between four and 13 at the time, at his home in Erdington, in the cab of his truck and in his garden shed.

He was also found to have indecently assaulted a young boy on numerous occasions and subjected him to several rape attempts when he was an infant.

Clarke admitted indecent assaults, gross indecency and attempted buggery against the boy, but denied 21 counts of indecent assault and gross indecency against the girls.

He claimed the women − now in their late 40s − were serial liars, but a jury deemed he was trying to cover up his sex attacks and found him guilty on all counts.

Detective Constable Emma Fennon, from West Midlands Police, said: "There may be people who question the merits of taking a 101-year-old man to court − but age alone is no defence against prosecution.

"Those he assaulted had to live with the suffering he inflicted on them for decades; they have had a life sentence in that respect and I hope they can take some comfort from the fact Clarke has finally been made to pay.

"Clarke subjected innocent children to truly shocking abuse over a prolonged period. I'd like to thank them for their bravery in coming forward and disclosing what happened so we could take action against him; we never underestimate the courage needed to speak out.

"Some of these crimes date back almost 40 years... but within West Midlands Police we have specialist teams that investigate historic abuse, no matter how far it dates back, and we are determined to secure justice for survivors."

Clarke is expected to be sentenced on Monday.