March 2015

Man who pestered schoolgirl with sex texts is spared jail

i

A PERVERT who pestered a schoolgirl to send him naked pictures and asked her for sex walked free, despite the guidelines suggest prison sentence of up to six years.

The victim’s parents were in court to hear a judge say he was sparing him jail because of his low IQ and his guilty plea meant the youngster did not have to give evidence.

Judge Tony Briggs told the couple he had “a difficult balancing act” and added: “In these cases, it is not always easy to satisfy everybody, but I’ve done my best.”

Last night (Thursday, March 12), campaigners blasted the “lenient” sentence and said: “The justice system isn’t there to please, it’s there to uphold the law and protect society.”

Jamie Sutcliffe, 21, of from Darlington, was given a 15-month suspended prison term with supervision, and was put on the sex offenders’ register for ten years.

Judge Briggs told him what he had done was “disgraceful and criminal” and that invariably offences of his kind were dealt with by immediate custodial sentences.

But he added: “It’s quite obvious that sadly, in terms of getting on with others and conducting any sort of emotional or sexual relationship, you lack insight.

“You have difficulties and you act in a way which, had it been done by someone in full possession of their faculties and full age, then a lengthy custodial sentence would have followed.”

The Sentencing Council guidelines say the starting point for an offence of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity is three years – with a range of two to six.

The court heard that Sutcliffe was 19 at the time of his crimes and the girl was aged 14 – but his mental capabilities put him in the bottom one per cent of people.

He bombarded the teenager with text messages, bought her thong underwear and a watch with a Playboy bunny logo, and asked if she would like a sex toy.

Prosecutor Ian Mullarkey told the court that the girl was “scared” and finally agreed to send him a rude picture of herself “so he would leave her alone”.

Sutcliffe sent her a photograph of his penis, but she refused his invitations to meet for sex acts, and the alarm was raised when teachers heard about it.

Sutcliffe – who says he has a girlfriend and speaks fondly of her – admitted inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and possessing an indecent image.

Pete Saunders, the chief executive of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC), said: “It is hard to justify a non-custodial sentence, given the seriousness of these crimes, albeit the offender has difficulties.

“Where someone clearly does have issues, they should be in custody and closely worked with – that should apply to all offenders who are at risk of reoffending.

“It sends out an alarming signal that the issue of abuse is not being taken seriously enough, and you have got to feel for the victim and her family.”