November 2019

Convicted paedophile, 31, jailed for 16 months

A convicted paedophile has been jailed after he dressed as an elf during a ‘Breakfast with Santa’ event at a pub.

Robert Checkley was jailed for 16 months in 2015 for making indecent photographs of children and was banned from doing any paid or voluntary activity that would put him in contact with anyone underage.

But Newcastle Crown Court heard that, on December 17 2017, the 31-year-old dressed up as a children’s Christmas elf character for young customers at the Bear and Ragged Staff pub in Kenilworth, Warwickshire, where he had been working for three months.

Bosses at the pub knew nothing about his criminal past.

Six weeks after the festive event, Checkley’s ex-girlfriend put his secret past ‘all over Facebook’ and he was forced to flee the town.

While under investigation, he then moved to the North East of England where he got a job at The Range in Gateshead before the truth came out to bosses after he was pulled over by police for drink driving.

Prosecutor Emma Dowling told the court Checkley would have been in regular contact with kids who went to the Bear and Ragged Staff for meals with their parents.

She added: ‘On December 17 the Bear and Ragged Staff had a ‘Breakfast with Santa’.

This was an organised and advertised event at the pub between 10am and 2pm.

‘It was for members of the public to attend and bring their children. The defendant worked that day, at the breakfast with Santa.

‘A manager confirmed this defendant dressed up as an elf, along with one of the other staff members, while the general manager was dressed as Santa.

‘Children were provided with breakfasts and served by both elves and Santa.’

Checkley, from Cramlington, Northumberland, admitted two breaches of a sexual harm prevention order.

He also admitted breach of sexual offender notification requirements by failing to provide police with his up to date addresses.

Judge Sarah Mallett sentenced him to 16 months behind bars.

The judge told him: ‘On December 17 you involved yourself with a children’s Christmas activity at the pub.

‘That took place between 10am and 12pm and it brought you into contact with the children who attended that function.’

Judge Mallett said Checkley had gone ‘off the radar’ of the authorities for periods of time and added: ‘You placed yourself in positions where you could have committed sexual offences, although you did not.’

Richard Herrmann, defending, said Checkley was not asked to provide details of his criminal record when he applied for the pub job.

Mr Herrmann said Checkley took the employment at the bar because he was ‘desperate to find a job’ and was ‘under pressure’ from the job centre to do so and feared he would lose his benefits.

He added: ‘It was a rough pub in a rough area, full of people drinking from the minute it opened until the minute it closed.’

Mr Herrmann said the Christmas event was an attempt by bosses to try ‘something different’ and added: ‘It was not his idea.

‘He was not pleased about the idea. He was told he would be dressed as an elf.

‘He didn’t know what to do.

‘He stayed behind the bar the entire time.’

October 2015

Nuneaton IT technician had ‘vile’ baby abuse movies on his computer

WHEN police experts examined a Nuneaton IT technician’s computer they found vile movies he had downloaded showing children as young as 12-months-old being sexually abused.

And a judge at Warwick Crown Court observed that Robert Checkley had also taken part in ‘very disturbing conversations’ with the man who had sent him some of the sick material.

Checkley, aged 27 of Victoria Road, Nuneaton, was jailed for 16 months and ordered to register as a sex offender for ten years after pleading guilty to six charges of making indecent images of children.

Prosecutor Jason Arris said that as part of a police operation in the summer of last year, officers went to Checkley’s home and seized various items including two computers.

On three separate hard drives they found indecent images of children, while on his phone was a social networking app through which he had been in contact with a man in County Durham.

Mr Arris pointed out that that man, Joshua Howlett, has pleaded guilty at Durham Crown Court to offences including distributing child pornography to Checkley, and is due to be sentenced later this month.

On Checkley’s hard drives police computer experts found a total of 695 indecent images and movies of children.

Of those, 201 stills and 18 movies were classed as being in the most serious level, category A, which is defined as showing children being subjected to penetrative sex acts.

There were 213 stills and 19 movies in category B, depicting children in non-penetrative sexual activity, while the remainder were in category C which covers other indecent images.

“The children portrayed are of differing ages, some of them very young, and up to around 15.”

The youngest child in the category A images was under 12 months, but Mr Arris said: “There were quite a lot of children who were particularly young, 12 months to two to three years, in category A, many of them movies with a number of people, and penetration.

“There were a number of particularly unpleasant images, and Your Honour will be aware of the excitement and pleasure expressed by the defendant on receiving those images.”

When he was questioned by the police Checkley, who said his sex life with his partner had broken down, admitted he did have a particular interest in those images, which the court heard related to both genders.

Commenting on the pre-sentence report, Judge Andrew Lockhart QC observed: “There is an inability to recognise children as being the victims.”

Nick Devine, defending, said: “The most powerful piece of mitigation is that he entered guilty pleas at the earliest opportunity, which helps to suggest the defendant does have some sort of insight into the impact of his criminal behaviour.

“He is a man who is only too well aware of the wider impact of this behaviour, which takes place over a relatively short period of time, three months.

“One of the most immediate and substantial impacts of it is that he has three children and one on the way, and he has not been anywhere near them since these offences came to light and Social Services became involved.

“That has had an impact on him and on his partner and on the children.”

Jailing Checkley, Judge Lockhart told him: “You were using peer-to-peer software to communicate with other people who were interested in this vile material.

“There were very disturbing conversations about activity you wished to indulge in with young boys, and you said you wanted to ‘ruin’ such a child.

“These are serious offences. Far from victimless crimes, the children on those images were subjected to appalling abuse, and the abuse continues with each distribution and with each viewing of those images.

“You have shown an inability to recognise that the children were victims.

“I have considered whether I can possibly pass a community order, but sadly I find this offending so serious that only a custodial sentence of some length can be justified.”