January 2021

Ex-teacher from Cheshire sentenced over indecent images

A former school teacher, described at Chester Crown Court as having an “unhealthy obsession with spanking”, has been spared jail after being found with indecent images of children.

Gordon Spencer Aspden, 71, of Bates Lane, Helsby, previously admitted owning indecent and prohibited images of children when he appeared before magistrates.

Appearing at Chester Crown Court to be sentenced on Monday, January 18, Aspden was told by Judge Patrick Thompson if an immediate custodial sentence was passed, under the guidelines he would only spend a few weeks in jail, with nothing done to address Aspden’s “twisted sexual interest”.

Judge Thompson instead suspended the sentence and ordered Aspden to complete a two-year community order, as well as placing him on a 10-year Sexual Harm Prevention Order.

Mark Phillips, prosecuting, said there were 37 indecent images, including four in the most serious category – category A – which police said included children aged between three and five being spanked on their bare bottom with a wooden bat.

There was one category B image of a girl aged between eight and 10, and 32 category C images including naked girls aged five to six years old.

There were also 10 prohibited images featuring drawings of naked girls being hit on their bare bottom with a bat.

Previously, descriptions of the prohibited images had not been supplied to the court, resulting in the sentencing being delayed for 10 days.

The images were said to date back to 2010.

Mr Phillips said Aspden, who had no previous convictions, told officers he had an obsession with spanking and expressed remorse.

Judge Thompson remarked: “My concern is he was in the teaching profession for a number of years. There is nothing I can do about that now, but it is very worrying for a teacher to have that unhealthy obsession with spanking.

“It’s vile behaviour. I don’t care if they are still images, they [the children] are being abused.”

Sentencing Aspden, Judge Thompson said: “You should be hanging your head in shame. You have disgraced yourself.

“The public are horrified by men like you searching for images such as those of children in distress being beaten.

“If you are gaining sexual gratification from that then you have got a very serious problem. If you don’t address it then you will be back before me and you will be sent to prison.

“If I were to send you to prison you would come out in a few weeks without doing anything to address your twisted sexual interest.

“My interest is to make sure children are protected in future. I have to make sure the risk you pose to children is reduced.”

Aspden was sentenced to eight months in prison, suspended for two years. He must complete 30 days of a rehabilitation activity requirement and carry out 150 hours unpaid work “to put something back into the community”.

He was made the subject of a 10-year SHPO restricting his computer and internet usage, and preventing him from contacting children aged under 16. He must also sign the Sex Offenders Register for the next 10 years.

He must also pay £425 prosecution costs and a victim surcharge.

The computer equipment used to obtain the indecent and prohibited images was to be forfeited and destroyed.

Judge adjourns sentencing of Cheshire pensioner paedophile after police fail to submit details of prohibited images

THE sentencing of a 71-year-old Cheshire paedophile had to be adjourned at Chester Crown Court – as police had failed to provide evidence describing a prohibited image.

Gordon Spencer Aspden, of Bates Lane, Helsby, appeared at Chester Crown Court on Friday, January 8, after previously admitting owning indecent and prohibited images of children.

Claire Jones, prosecuting, said the 37 indecent images included four in the most serious category – category A – which police said included children aged between three and five being spanked on their bare bottom with a wooden bat.

But no description had been supplied for the 10 prohibited images of children.

Judge Patrick Thompson expressed frustration and said he was unable to sentence the case without that evidence as he did not know the level of seriousness the prohibited images were.

He said: “Police have had all the time in the world to present that evidence. There is no excuse at all.

“It is not just this case, and I don’t know if the police are taking it seriously enough. I think the public would take the view it was very serious.

“I am not sentencing him when I don’t know what he has done. It’s just absolutely appalling that the prosecution cannot tell me what it is. I am very unhappy about it.

“It’s not rocket science. I can’t just pick a [sentencing] figure out of the air.”

Earlier, Ms Jones said police had executed a search warrant on Aspden’s home address on June 26, 2018 and recovered three digital devices.

Images were found on an HP Tower unit, a laptop and a Pen drive.

There were four category A indecent images found, one category B image of a girl aged between eight and 10, and 32 category C images including naked girls aged five to six years old, as well as the 10 prohibited images.

The images were said to date back to 2010.

Aspden’s internet history was checked and there were searches to knickers to purchase.

When interviewed by police, Aspden denied looking for indecent images, saying he was simply searching for “spanking”.

He admitted buying underwear at charity shops and performing sex acts involving them.

He had “suggested it was an addiction”.

He did not believe that prohibited images or images of children being spanked were illegal.

However, when Aspden appeared at Chester Magistrates Court on December 11, 2020, he pleaded guilty at the first opportunity to all charges.

The court heard Aspden was a man with no previous convictions or cautions.

Judge Thompson adjourned sentencing to Monday, January 18, at Chester Crown Court, for police to provide evidence in relation to the prohibited images and an explanation why the evidence had not been originally included.

Aspden was released on bail until that date, to comply with the terms of the draft Sexual Harm Prevention Order which include restrictions on his computer usage.

Judge Thompson warned him all sentencing options remained open, including prison.