A church worker and child abuser has walked from court a free man – despite having just been jailed for two and a half years for sexual offences.
A judge condemned Philip Barlow as a “hypocrite, liar and a paedophile” as he imposed the jail term.
But because the married 33-year-old has already served the equivalent time in prison, he is a free man today.
In December 2011, Barlow was jailed for four years after being found guilty of 14 offences of sexual abuse of two young girls. The convictions were later quashed on appeal and a retrial ordered.
Last month the father-of-one, who was a youth leader at Grace Bible Church in Saltford, was again found guilty, of eight sexual assaults against a child under the age of 13 and five counts of sexual activity with a child.
He was found not guilty of charges relating to another girl at the re-trial at Bournemouth Crown Court.
But Barlow, who is also a former music teacher, was able to leave court a free man because the time he had already spent in prison meant he had already served his sentence.
In addition to the prison term Barlow was also handed an indefinite sexual harm prevention order and has had to sign the sex register for life.
Sentencing him, Judge Peter Johnson told Barlow he had a “manipulative, controlling personality” and throughout the trial had shown “staggering arrogance and hypocrisy overlaid by false humility”.
The judge added that while Barlow considered himself a “charismatic charmer who could do no wrong” he was in fact a “hypocrite, liar and a paedophile”.
The Bristol Post had been prevented from reporting the sentencing on March 11 because of a court order – but that has now been lifted.
During his trial in 2011, Barlow, formerly of Raleigh Road, Saltford, was described as a “charming and principled man” who was “committed to the principles of his religious community”. But he was accused by the prosecution of being an “exploitative, manipulative and cunning” man.
The court heard the prosecution say Barlow had a “darker sexual side,” was a “peeping Tom” and liked to “expose himself” – all of which Barlow denied.
Prosecutors said Barlow’s behaviour ranged from sexual compliments and comments to touching his alleged victims inappropriately.
Barlow was also accused of using social media to “emotionally blackmail” his alleged victims, to persuade them to keep quiet about his actions.
But Barlow told the jury all the allegations against him were false and had simply not happened.
He did, however, admit having a sexual relationship with a girl after she turned 16 behind his wife’s back, that his actions in doing so were “deceitful” and that he was “not proud of it by any stretch of the imagination”.
Investigating officer Detective Constable Sam Long told the Bristol Post Barlow’s case had been a “lengthy and challenging investigation”.
DC Long said: “I’m delighted that Mr Barlow has been brought to justice.
“He held a position of trust which he took advantage of in the most horrific way possible.”
“I would like to praise the actions of the victim’s mother in reporting her concerns to us, as it enabled us to stop Mr Barlow from offending further.
“We would also like to echo the judge’s praise for the victim’s bravery and courage in coming forward and I would like to thank our partner agencies, including the local authority, for their support with this enquiry.
“I would urge any victim of abuse to come forward. You do not have to suffer in silence. You will be believed and we are always here to listen.”
Philip Barlow, who was condemned by the judge as a liar and a paedophile