August 2010

Parents horrified after student who took pictures up girl’s skirt spared prison

THE father of a four-year-old girl who caught a paedophile taking pictures of his daughter says he is “horrified” the pervert has been spared jail.

Former photography student Richard Alexander Thornton, 19, followed the girl around Tesco in Beverley as she shopped with her parents.

He used his Apple iPhone to take photographs up the girl’s skirt.

But he was caught by the girl’s father, who apprehended him in the Morton Lane store until police arrived.

Thornton was found in possession of 210 indecent images of children, some showing young girls being raped.

While on bail for the offence, which happened on April 28, Thornton visited Sessions Spa in Beverley for a haircut, where he sexually assaulted a girl.

Thornton, of Brandesburton, pleaded guilty at Hull Crown Court to sexual assault, taking indecent photographs and eight counts of making indecent images.

He was given a two-year community order and ordered to attend a sex offenders’ rehabilitation programme.

He was also ordered to sign the Sex Offenders’ Register for five years and given a five-year sexual offences prevention order.

The order bans him from unsupervised contact with children and allows the police to check his computer if they have reason to believe he is reoffending.

But the father of the four-year-old girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, believes Thornton should have been given a prison sentence.

He said: “We thought he would get a custodial sentence. We are horrified that he has been let out.

“It is worrying for my wife and I to think there is a weirdo like that walking around on the streets.

“My wife is petrified she might bump into him.

“He is now free to go wherever he wants. Even if he had just got one year it might have shown other people in his circles who do that sort of thing what happens.

“By freeing him it’s like saying they can take the risk to do things like that.”

Sentencing, Judge Michael Mettyear said he wanted Thornton to get professional help.

He said: “You took a picture up the skirt of a four-year-old child in Beverley.

“It must have been terribly worrying for the little girl’s parents.

“I bear in mind you have spent 107 days in custody and an immediate custodial sentence could only be comparatively short – measured in months not years.

“You would be released fairly quickly and nothing would be done to prevent you from re-offending.”

Following his arrest, Thornton quit his photography course at the University of Edinburgh.