September 2015

Sex offender hung around Windermere play area

A SEX offender was caught loitering in a children’s play area on the shores of Windermere after forgetting the terms of his monitoring agreement.

Former Cumbria Magistrate Geoffrey Crookes, 79, is banned from going within 100m of any school, park or play area after being convicted of taking indecent pictures of young boys on a camcorder in Fell Foot Park.

But during the first week of the school summer holidays, Crookes, a retired college lecturer, was spotted in the National Trust park while children played and swam in the water.

Officers recognised the sex offender – who previously served two separate prison sentences for abusing a young boys on the 1980s and 1990s – and arrested him.

Crookes, of Granby Road, Grange, accepted he had been in the park but said he was becoming forgetful in his old age.

He told officers he was a National Trust member and was enjoying a day out, adding at his age he was simply happy to see the children playing on the climbing frames and play equipment.

However he accepted he had been banned from the play area after taking camcorder footage of naked youngsters swimming in the lake on a previous occasion, and been made the subject of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order.

Officers from Cumbria police who monitor sex offenders said they had seen a deterioration in Crookes’s mobility and mental health in recent years. He now has a power of attorney to manage his affairs and walks with a stick. He was not deemed fit to enter a plea to breaching the terms of his SOPO but Judge Michael Byrne made a finding of fact that he had been in the area when he was banned from doing so.

Judge Byrne, sentencing, said: “I am satisfied that there is a need for supervision. I am going to make a supervision order for two years which will be supervised by the probation service and local authority.”

January 2004

EX-MAGISTRATE ADMITS FILMING NAKED CHILDREN

A FORMER Cumbrian magistrate with a history of sex offences against children was caught secretly filming naked youngsters on the shores of Windermere.

Geoffrey Crookes, 67, who also worked as a college lecturer, was confronted by a mum-of-two who reported him to police, magistrates in Kendal were told.

Crookes, 67, of Granby Road, Kents Bank, Grange-over-Sands , said he was “definitely guilty” of taking an indecent photo or a pseudo-photo of a child at Fell Foot Park on August 5, 2003.

Crookes, who has a long history of serious child sexual offences, then used a camcorder to take indecent pictures of at least one of the boys, who are all aged under 13.

Crookes has three previous sex convictions and served a three-and-a-half year jail term in 1987 in York after admitting sex offences against young boys.

In 1989 he was put on probation for two years after admitting indecently assaulting a nine-year-old boy while working as a private tutor and in 1998 he was jailed for 30 months for sexually assaulting a teenage boy in Bolton.