September 2006

JUDGE SLAMS REPORT FOR BEING TOO HARD ON CHILD SEX PERVERT

A JUDGE promised to report a Cumbrian probation officer to her bosses after hearing how her negative report about a convicted child molester had left the offender deeply upset.

Clare Doggart’s background report on 63-year-old paedophile Anthony Marshall (pic above) included a suggestion that he wanted to leave the UK so he could beat a ban on him working with children.

The pervert was jailed last week for 18 months after one of his five victims came forward to reveal how private piano teacher Marshall subjected him to years of sexual abuse during lessons.

The hearing was overshadowed by persistent criticism of Miss Doggart’s negative report on Marshall, whose barrister handed in several “glowing references,” including two from retired vicars.

Judge Alan Taylor ruled that Miss Doggart should be reported to her boss, but the county’s chief probation officer Mike Maiden yesterday defended her.

He insisted that Miss Doggart had followed recognised and tested procedures in preparing her report.

During the hearing, Marshall’s defence counsel, Tim Evans, complained at length about the report, saying: “It seems to draw judgement constantly against the interests of the defendant when there is no basis for so doing.

“For example, Miss Doggart sees fit to comment on Mr Marshall’s desire to move abroad, as she infers being an attempt to avoid the restrictions placed on him by the court to give him an opportunity again to work with children.

“There’s an example of comment which has little proper evidential basis at all and Mr Marshall is very upset by comments like that.”

He said that Marshall, whose victim in the latest case was just eight when the abuse started, had no interest in reoffending.

Commenting on the report, Judge Taylor said: “I really did wonder whether the probation officer knew what her job was. I was absolutely shocked by it.

“I was taken aback by the way in which everything in this report is slanted against [the defendant].”

He added the officer had assumed that Marshall had committed other offences, which was improper. Judge Taylor said he had read hostile reports in sex cases but added: “I’ve never seen anything like this before.”

Mr Maiden said: “The Probation Service uses an internationally recognised method of assessing offenders. Assessments are based on a broad range of verified information and in cases of this type they are checked by other staff. The staff member in this case followed all the appropriate procedures.

“The service regrets that the court was not persuaded by the views presented.”

Marshall, of Moss View Cottage, Walton, was jailed for three years in 2000 for sex attacks on four other boys.

The latest specimen offences against his fifth victim, all of which Marshall admitted, included three indecent assaults and three acts of gross indecency with a child aged under 16.

At one point Marshall, who said he felt ashamed, threatened to have a young girl’s fingers bitten off after she saw him acting suspiciously through a keyhole.