In the Media

Judges express 'great concern' at shorter sentence for paedophile

PUBLISHED August 15, 2012

Simon Crisp had hundreds of child abuse images on his computer which he shared with other sex offenders, and twice tried to groom a teenage boy online.

He was given an Indeterminate Sentence for Public Protection (IPP) at Preston Crown Court earlier this year, after police seized computer equipment from his Lancs home.

The 36-year-old was told that a five-year sentence would have been appropriate for the offences he admitted, but that he was "dangerous" and so should only be released when the Parole Board thought he was safe to be released.

However at London's Court of Appeal on Wednesday, his lawyers argued that this "notional" five-year jail term was too long.

His appeal was allowed as the term was "excessive" and the open-ended sentence was quashed and replaced with a conventional jail term of three years.

This means he will be automatically set free next year after serving half of the term.

Judges said they were anxious about the outcome but had "no alternative" because of the terms of Labour's law on IPPs, which can only be imposed when the offences would warrant a conventional sentence of at least four years.

Judge Anthony Morris, QC, said: "We consider that the judge's finding of dangerousness was fully justified on the evidence before him.

"But, by reason of this court's decision to reduce the notional determinate term, a sentence of imprisonment for public protection was not available.

"We have great concern as to the outcome. But, as Parliament has laid down that the notional term must be at least four years for an indeterminate sentence to be imposed, we have no alternative but to quash the IPP."

The judge, sitting with Lord Justice Davis and Mr Justice Treacy, added that a sexual offences prevention order handed to Crisp should be "vigorously enforced" by probation offices to ensure he does not re-offend after his release.

IPPs, brought in by David Blunkett in 2003, were abolished by the Coalition Government earlier this year.

Critics said the tough sentences have been used far more than was planned, boosting the prison population, but were not understood by victims or the public.

It is claimed that only a tiny proportion of those given the sentences have been released so far, remaining in jail long after they would have done on normal sentences.