March 2010

Bristol bus driver with indecent picture of girl, 8, on phone avoids jail

A former bus driver who admitted possessing an indecent image of an eight- year-old girl has avoided being sent to jail.

North Avon Magistrates Court heard the image of a young girl performing a sex act on an adult male was found when Stuart Tucker’s mobile phone went missing while at work.

The 44-year-old’s phone was found by his boss, who looked through its contents and discovered the image.

Magistrates gave Tucker a six-week sentence, suspended for a year. This means that as long as Tucker does not get into any more trouble with the law, he will not have to serve any time in custody.

He was also made subject to a community order and told to register as a sex offender for the next seven years.

Tucker, who lives with his parents in Banfield Close, Lawrence Weston, was arrested and bailed by police in September last year on suspicion of having the image.

He was sacked from his job at Bristol bus firm Wessex Connect, which is based in Gipsy Patch Lane in Patchway.

The court heard Tucker started to receive text messages when he joined a text dating agency.

He firstly received a text message from a man, named only as “Dave” saying: “Sexy, do you remember when I said, do you like girls? I mean seven to eight-year-olds.”

The person who sent the text then offered Tucker an explicit picture of what was claimed to be their eight-year-old daughter. The court heard that out of curiosity, Tucker replied that he did want to see the image. He said that he only looked at the image, which he received on September 22, last year, on three occasions, and that he did not know, nor had he ever met, the distributor of the text message.

The image was in his possession for two days before his arrest on September 24.

Defence solicitor Peter Richardson said: “We are talking about one image in isolation, which was possessed for a relatively short period of time.

“There are no aggravating features, no suggestion of distribution. But he has to accept the type of image that was sent to him.

“Mr Tucker is 44, he has never been before the court before, or been arrested before. It is very difficult for somebody of his age to explain in the cold light of day how he has managed to get himself into this predicament.

“He finds it very difficult to put into words the chain of events that led to this.”

Tucker, who has no previous convictions, was given a character reference by his brother-in-law. His new girlfriend – who he met via the same dating agency – and his dad were also in court yesterday.

Presiding magistrate Liz Gregson told Tucker: “This is a serious offence and therefore we are going to impose a period of imprisonment, but we are going to suspend that.

“The sentence you will serve will be six weeks, suspended for 12 months.

“During that time you will comply with a community order, with a supervision requirement for seven years.

“Under that order you have to comply with anything the probation service deems appropriate during that time.

“This was an image of a young child and you are a mature adult.

“We are also going to require that you register with the police. If you fail to comply with these requirements, you will be fined or imprisoned for a period of up to five years.”

Tucker was also ordered to pay costs of £85.