February 2021

Case delay sees Royal British Legion pervert walk free from court after admitting child sex order offence

A former Royal British Legion branch secretary with a history of child sex offences has avoided jail – because of a delay in his case.

William Henry Northcote from Wakefield admitted breaching a sexual harm prevention order order (SHPO) dating back to 2018, but a judge told him this week that the inexplicable three-year wait for his case to reach Leeds Crown Court meant he would avoid custody.

Northcote, 50, was convicted of multiple counts of downloading indecent images five years ago and was given a community order and the SHPO, designed to limit his internet use.

Leeds Crown Court was told this week that Northcote, of Warren Avenue, on the Portobello estate, had contacted police himself in in April 2018 to say that he had logged onto a website that he did not know contained extreme images.

Police took away four of his devices, however, there was a delay in checking them, with one of the officers in the case retiring during that time.

When they finally were checked, they found Northcote had conducted two searches for abuse images.

They also found that he had downloaded a Tor Browser – which is often used by people using the ‘dark web’ who do not wanting their internet history to be traced – but said he had forgotten that he was not permitted to install such software.

udge Geoffrey Marson QC called it an “unusual case” because Northcote had called the police himself, but questioned why it had taken nearly three years to reach the courts.

He said: “It has taken a long time and why it has taken this long is beyond me, so you get the benefit from that because you have not committed an offence since.”

He told him that had the case been brought swiftly before the courts, he would have given him a 12-month custodial sentence.

Instead, he handed him eight months’ jail, suspended for two years.