An “utterly depraved” fugitive paedophile caught by police has avoided going back to jail – to the anger of one victim’s family.
Susan Barnett went on the run on May 21, when due to be sentenced for breaching a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO).
That order was imposed after she and her husband Kevin Barnett plotted to sexually abuse children as part of a paedophile love triangle.
Horrific WhatsApp messages exposed the Cumbrian couple’s sick plans with Nikita Moore, with whom they had a threesome.
The trio were all jailed in 2015, but upon her release, Susan, now 33, moved to Merseyside and flouted the terms of the order by contacting two children.
The pervert admitted contacting the children and was granted bail on March 31 for a pre-sentence report to be prepared.
But she left her home in Beechwood Road, Litherland and never returned to court, so a warrant was issued for her arrest.
Barnett was arrested in Barrow-in-Furness on May 23 – at a house overlooking a primary school.
Barnett was captured at her mum’s address – was remanded in custody to await sentencing.
However, when dragged back to Liverpool Crown Court, she was handed six months in jail, suspended for 12 months.
Barnett admitted breaching her SHPO “without reasonable excuse” between December 3, 2018 and October 2, 2019 by having “unsupervised contact with a child under the age of 16, without the consent of the child’s parent”.
Prosecutors agreed the prohibited communication with the children was online and not face-to-face contact.
They said it was a deliberate breach, but agreed with defence counsel there was little or no harm caused to the children.
Judge Garrett Byrne said Sentencing Council guidelines for breach offences therefore indicated a starting point for sentence of six months in jail, with a sentencing range of a medium level community order to eight months in jail.
The judge said he then had to give her a 25% discount for her guilty plea, and while he could send her to prison for a short period of time, a pre-sentence report referred to the negative effects of an immediate custodial sentence on her mental health – particularly during the coronavirus pandemic, when prisons are on 23 hours a day lockdown.
Meanwhile, the Probation Service said it believed there was a “realistic prospect of rehabilitation”.
Judge Byrne gave Barnett a two-month home curfew, from 7pm to 6am daily, at a new address in Leyland Road, Southport.
He also told her to attend a 25-day rehabilitation activity requirement and ordered the forfeiture and destruction of her mobile phone – upon which she had been contacting the children.
The grandad of one of the children Barnett originally plotted to abuse has now slammed the sentence and branded it “pathetic”.
He said how his grandchild had to go for traumatic medical tests to check whether or not they had been molested.
The furious grandad said: “We knew she [Barnett] was in Liverpool and we knew there was a warrant out for her arrest.
“We didn’t know where she had gone and that’s when we found out she was back in Barrow.
“My daughter nearly bumped into her and my mates had to drag my daughter away from her.
“It’s pathetic – she should be back inside. The original sentence they got was not long enough for what they did.”
Kevin, then 28, was jailed for six years, Susan, then 28, for four and a half years, and Moore, the 22, for four years, in 2015.
The grandad said: “They only did half that then got out. She should have gone back in and finished her sentence off really in my opinion, but that’s my opinion, it’s not the courts.
“In my opinion the courts were too lenient with them. But there’s nothing we can do.
“All I can try and do is protect my daughter by keeping her away from Barnett and my daughter not hitting her and ending up inside.”
The Barnetts and Moore, also from Barrow, were convicted over a June 2014 plot after a disturbing trial at Preston Crown Court in December that year.
A jury heard Moore began an affair with Kevin Barnett shortly after the death of her long term partner Jason Baines, who killed himself in October 2013.
Moore, originally from Birmingham, said they had indulged in “unconventional” sexual practices, but their relationship ended in early 2014, when she discovered he was also having an affair with another woman.
After admitting the affair to Susan Barnett, Moore said the two women had become “really close”, and the spurned wife and former lover even moved in together, after Kevin Barnett left them both for another woman.
But Moore continued to secretly exchange messages with Kevin Barnett, discussing underage sex and sharing indecent images of children, and both she and Susan Barnett then went along with his twisted desires, in a bid to win him back.
Judge Christopher Cornwall described how extreme sexual exchanges between Barnett and the two women descended into plans to abuse children.
He said: “By this time you had all sunk so low and your thinking was so distorted that all basic, fundamental morality protecting children from adult sexual provision was simply absent.”
Susan was told it was to her “eternal shame” that she did not react with “outrage” to her husband’s twisted suggestions.
Moore shared “violent sexual fantasies” with Kevin Barnett and even discussed having a baby with him, for them to abuse together.
She also shared indecent photos of children, and spoke of her desire to see him rape a young child.
Judge Cornwall said: “The offences were committed in quite extraordinary circumstances in which two women were so desperate to rekindle their relationships with Kevin Barnett, that they were prepared to indulge his every terrible whim.
“The content of the messages was truly horrific and utterly depraved.”
The judge accepted there was no evidence any physical abuse was carried out, but said Kevin Barnett was a “baneful influence” on the two women, who had “little understanding” of the harm he had caused.
He told Susan Barnett: “You have a heavy burden to carry, which you will be judged on for some considerable time to come.”
The trio were arrested after an 18-year-old woman, who was in a relationship with Kevin Barnett, tipped police off about messages she had read on his phone.
Kevin Barnett was arrested over a domestic disturbance at her address in June 2014, when Susan Barnett and Moore were living at the couple’s marital home.
He had a sexual liaison with both his wife and Moore the night before, and the following evening had continued to text the pair, while with the third woman.
A row broke out between them and when officers arrived to prevent a breach of the peace, she drew their attention to vile messages on his mobile phone.
Prosecutors said conversations showed Susan Barnett agree to assist in sexual activity with a child and all three discuss gaining access to children.
Susan Barnett suggested she could get a job in child care, while Moore told Kevin Barnett she had thoughts of sexually abusing a child, which he encouraged.
Kevin and Susan Barnett were jointly found guilty of one count of arranging the commission of a child sexual offence, and Kevin Barnett and Moore were jointly convicted of two counts of conspiracy to commit a child sexual offence.
Kevin Barnett and Moore previously admitted offences relating to indecent images of children, while Susan Barnett admitted possessing extreme pornography depicting sex with dogs and horses.
All three denied the charges and argued the texts had been a “fantasy” with no real intent to act on them.
But the jury found the messages represented a genuine plan to abuse children, and they were told to sign on the Sex Offenders Register for life.