March 2013

Judge criticised for letting Hartlepool child abuse images addict free because he would “suffer badly” in prison


A PERVERT, twice caught with child abuse images, has dodged prison for the second time – because he “would suffer badly”.

Mark Martin was already on a suspended jail sentence for making indecent images when police found more on his mobile phone.

The 24-year-old had also been using his brother’s computer to download other vile pictures of young boys and girls.

At Teesside Crown Court, Judge Peter Bowers passed another suspended sentence, and told him: “This really is your last chance.”

Last year, Judge Bowers was reprimanded and caused public outrage for describing a burglar as “courageous” and sparing him prison.

Last night, campaigners branded the let-off “remarkably short-sighted” and said the jobless shop worker should have been locked up.

Martin, of Dent Street, Hartlepool, got a 12-month jail sentence, suspended for two years, with probation service supervision.

In 2009, he was given a similar punishment and was ordered to go on a sex offenders’ treatment programme to cure his “addiction”.

A Sexual Offences Prevention Order was also made which banned him from putting anti-forensic software on his computers.

Police visited his home in February last year to check on his internet activity and ask about his compute use, the court heard.

He claimed not to have the internet and when he was asked by officers about his mobile phone, he reacted “suspiciously”.

Prosecutor Sue Jacobs told the court that a total of 48 still and moving images of child abuse – some in the worst category – were found.

Martin Scarborough, mitigating, said Martin knew he faced prison, but had shown “genuine remorse” and was candid with police.

Judge Bowers told him: “You present quite a problem for me because, in theory, you had breached the suspended sentence.

“As most people will know, if people do breach a suspended sentence, then it is almost inevitable they go straight away to prison.

“But I have read with some concern about you, and this addiction you have had of looking at pornography of little children.

“I think you would suffer very badly in prison and I don’t think, at the moment, it is necessary to send you there today.

“I am going to give you another suspended sentence, but you have got to understand it is the very last chance you are ever going to get.

“You are probably doing the right thing not to have any internet access . . . it is a temptation you will find very hard to resist.”

The National Association of People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC) last night described the sentence as “strange by any standard”.

Acting operations manager, Dr Jon Bird, said: “This is a remarkably short-sighted decision in my opinion.

“We know that people who have this kind of problem need help to control it, but the sympathy should only go so far.

“Two suspended sentences in a row is strange, by any standards. In prison this kind of offender would be segregated for his protection.

“I imagine he is at home laughing about how he fooled a judge.

“There has to be a strong deterrent enforced on these criminals who cause so much pain to their victims.”