Ralph Clarke – 101 year old to be first centenarian to be...

Ralph Clarke – 101 year old to be first centenarian to be tried?

Photo from the BBC


We have looked before at ‘Britain’s oldest criminals‘, including the 100 year old who was prosecuted, convicted, but not sent to prison. The oldest man to be sent to prison in the British Isles is the 96 year old in Guernsey who was sent to prison, well ahead of the oldest that we are aware of in England and Wales – Marcus Marcussen was a relatively youthful 91 when he was convicted after a trial, and sentenced to 9 years in 2015.

Mr Marquises is the oldest person we know of to stand trial and be sentenced. He’s not the oldest to be sent down – Frederick Smith was 94 when he was jailed (and died shortly afterwards) on a guilty plea.

Well, in 2016, we have a new record. Step forward Mr Ralph Clarke of Birmingham…


What’s happening in his case?

Mr Clarke is 101. Born during the First World War, when the life expectancy for a male born that year was 57 years. His family, and any lawyers as the time, would have been surprised to find that nearly double that period of time later Mr Clarke would find himself in the dock of what is now called the Crown Court.

He is accused in relation to 31 charges relating to the alleged sexual abuse of three people between 1974 and 1983.

There was a PCMH on 6th June 2016 where Mr Clarke pleaded not guilty. His case was adjourned for a two week trial on 5th December 2016.

At that point he will be, by a fairly long margin, the oldest person in England and Wales to have a trial. He is already only the second centenarian, and the oldest one by some way, to appear in the Crown Court charged with a criminal offence.

We won’t be saying anything about the case, or other issues raised by it, as it is still ongoing. But we will be back to look at this at a later date.

Dan is a barrister at 2 Dr. Johnson’s Buildings practising in crime.


  1. Six months is a long time in this instance. Due to Mr Clarke’s age now, are we definitely certain that he would have not passed on by December? I do hope not. On the other hand, Mr Clarke only looks as if he’s in his 70s in that picture – no way I would have said that he was 101.

    I bet that there will probably be someone from Guinness World Records in the courtroom because of the uniqueness of Mr Clarke’s age in this trial – this will break some records, and I bet that he will make the 2017 or 2018 edition of the book.