May 2010

Pervert spared jail term after webcam session

A TRAIN station supervisor who formed an inappropriate relationship with a schoolboy has walked free from court after a judge said he would get more help in the community than behind bars.

Leslie Booth, 51, was given a 48-week suspended prison sentence with two years of Probation Service supervision, and was ordered to attend a sex offenders’ treatment programme.

Teesside Crown Court heard yesterday how openly gay Booth met the teenager through his job, befriended him and kept in touch through phone calls and text messages.

Sam Andrews, prosecuting, told the court the two also communicated through internet chatrooms and that in the summer of 2008, Booth and the boy held a conversation via a webcam.

During the online link-up, Booth, who worked at Middlesbrough railway station, stripped off and exposed himself while the boy watched.

Booth, of Claremont Court, Thornaby, near Stockton, admitted engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child.

Robert Adams, in mitigation, said Booth had lost his job, was having counselling for depression and would struggle to find similar employment.

Mr Adams told Judge Howard Crownson that searches of Booth’s computer and mobile telephone did not reveal evidence of an interest in underage boys.

He said Booth became “fairly lonely” in June 2008 after the break-up of a long-term relationship with a younger man, and wrongly befriended the teenager.

He said: “There is no suggestion of any inappropriate touching or anything more serious than that of a disgusting nature. He is extremely embarrassed by what happened.

“It is undoubtedly the case that he never expected it to come to court and he has found the whole thing extremely difficult. He has become a bit of a recluse.”

Judge Crowson told Booth that he would receive no help for his problem if he was given a short jail sentence, but would receive treatment if spared prison.

Booth was also ordered to sign on the sex offenders’ register for ten years, was banned from having unsupervised contact with under-16s and barred from working with children.