September 2004

Paedophile gets treatment – not jail

A Rugby man who took an indecent photograph of a naked two year-old girl and downloaded indecent images of other children has escaped being jailed.

Instead a judge at Warwick Crown Court imposed a three year rehabilitation order on Andrew Burchnall and order him to register as a sex offender for five years.

Burchnall, 40 of Grendon drive, at the time, now of Ben Road, Bedworth, had admitted 11 charges of making indecent images of children, one of possessing indecent images, and one of taking an indecent photograph.

Sara Pedley, prosecuting, said Burchnall came to the attention of the police as part of operation Ore.

That has been set up after information was passed on by the US postal service who had raided premises of an internet company called landslide Inc, and seized its database.

It revealed that burchnall had visited the site, which contained child pornography.

His computer equipment was seized and when he was questioned about what the police computer experts would find. He said he had gone to one site offering child pornography and ‘probably clicked the entry button.’

But an examination of his computer revealed he had visited at least four sites known to contain indecent images of children, and he had a total of 21 such images on the hard drive or on a computer disk.

Of the images 196 were what is classed as level one, involving children in erotic poses without any sexual activity, but 14 were of level three and four which involve sexual activity between adults and children.

He was questioned again and accepted visiting the sites, but denied getting any sexual gratification from them.

He went on to admit that two years ago he had used a digital camera with a zoom lens to take a photograph of a naked two-year-old girl in a paddling pool, using the zoom to focus on her genital area, but said had later deleted it, added Miss Pedley.

Referring to Court of Appeal guidelines Judge Martin Coates pointed out that without the five level four images, the case would probably not be a custodial one – and because there was so few of those more serous pictures, the sentence he could impose would be as low as three months after giving Burchnall credit for his pleas.

“The alternative is a course of action which means that the authorities will be in touch with him for many months, which is far more constructive.”

Andrew Tucker defending, pointed out that if he was jailed Burchnall would be released “in a matter of a few weeks,” which would not enable him to receive treatment.

“It is treatment that he needs, and treatment which will protect society and young children from him.” Said Mr Tucker, who added that Burchnall had the support of his wife and family.

Sentencing Burchnall and ordering him to take part in a sex offender programme, judge Coates told him: “Giving you credit for your plea would bring the prison sentence down to three months, and you would be released after six weeks, or I could pass you over to the probation service.
What is best for the public is the latter course.”