A REDHILL man who fled to the Dominican Republic after being caught in possession of almost 400 indecent images of children has been deported back to the UK and jailed.
Ralph Baker, 67, was sent to prison for four years on Tuesday (January 24) after being forced to return from the Caribbean nation, seven years after he skipped bail and travelled there.
He was tracked down to an address in Puerto Plata in July 2008 and then last year police received further intelligence that he was living there with two children.
In 2004, Baker had been arrested for breaching an existing Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) by being involved with a junior football team.
Surrey Police said further offences came to light when 398 indecent images of children ranging from level one to level four were discovered on computer equipment seized from his home address.
Baker was returned to the UK on October 10 last year and was arrested as he arrived at Gatwick Airport.
At Guildford Crown Court on December 14, he pleaded guilty to 10 counts of making an indecent image of a child, four counts of possessing an indecent image of a child, one count of breaching a SOPO and failing to notify police of an intention of foreign travel.
He denied a further charge of breaching a SOPO and one of obtaining a passport by deception, which were subsequently dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service.
Returning to the same court on Tuesday, Baker was told by Judge Christopher Critchlow that in addition to his prison sentence he would have an extended eight-year licence period upon his release, would remain on the sex offenders register for life and be made subject to a further SOPO, which prevents him from travelling abroad and restricts his use of the internet and any contact with children under the age of 16.
Detective Sergeant Kevin Suckling, of Surrey Police, said: “This result demonstrates the lengths Surrey Police, in conjunction with national and international law enforcement agencies, will go to in ensuring individuals involved in the exploitation of children are brought to justice.
“Baker has shown complete disregard for the law not only by continuing to make indecent images following a previous prosecution, but by fleeing the country when he knew the net was closing in on him.
“It is a fact that is sometimes forgotten but every image downloaded and shared online represents a child that has been abused and Surrey Police is committed to identifying those responsible for such offences and bringing them before the courts.”
Police worked in conjunction with the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP), the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) and Dominican Republic authorities to get Baker.
Jim Warnock, head of intelligence at CEOP, added: “This sentence shows that the world is an increasingly smaller place for those who present a risk to children, wherever they may be.
“Working with and supporting national and international law enforcement agencies, not forgetting the child protection organisations who provide vital care to children and young people, CEOP will continue to ensure that any UK national who seeks to harm children and young people will be held to account for their actions.”