March 2003

Magistrate’s jail term increased

A magistrate who sexually abused a nine-year-old girl has had his “unduly lenient” jail term almost doubled by Appeal Court judges.

Steven Walters was jailed for two years at Derby Crown Court in November last year after being convicted of six counts of indecent assault and two of indecency with a child.

But on Wednesday at London’s Appeal Court, Lord Goldsmith, QC, argued successfully that the sentence was too short and it was increased to three-and-a-half years.

Walters, of Whitwell Road, Broxtowe, Nottingham, would have been jailed for five years but was shown leniency as he suffers diabetes, which has shortened his life expectancy.

The 41-year-old had served as a JP in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, after hiding previous convictions for dishonesty.

Speaking at the Appeal Court, Lord Justice Kay said Walters took the girl to the magistrates courts in 2000 while he was still serving, showed her the cells and said: “lock her up! This is where bad people get locked up.”

The youngster “took it as some sort of warning” that she would not be believed if she revealed she had been abused.

She kept quiet about the abuse, which happened over a four-month period between June 1 and September 30, 1999, until August, 2001 when she finally blurted out the truth to a friend’s mother, the judge added.

The abuse will have “a deep psychological effect on her for the rest of her life”, said the judge.

Walters has now been sacked as a JP and an investigation is being conducted by the Lord Chancellor’s Department to discover how these previous offences were not picked up before his appointment to the bench.

Because of the sentence increase, Walters, who had previously been ordered to remain on the sex offenders’ register for ten years, will now be on it for life.