July 2010

Foster carer’s jail sentence overturned

A Carse of Gowrie foster carer caught with more than 13,000 images of child pornography has had his prison sentence overturned following a successful appeal.

Anthony Peter Clark (62) was jailed for a year by Sheriff Robert McCreadie at Perth Sheriff Court in March.

The motorcycle dealer, of Cairnie Road, St Madoes, had admitted possessing images of children at his home and business premises on October 2, 2008.

He also admitted engaging in illegal sexual activity with a teenage girl between August 29, 2007, and February 28, 2008.

Having heard the facts of the case, Sheriff McCreadie ordered that he be placed on licence for three years following his release and on the sex offenders register for a decade.

He told Clark he had breached the trust placed in him by his victim and pointing out that the use of child pornography was a far from victimless crime.

However Clark has successfully appealed that decision, with a judgment from Lord Reedexpressing the view Sheriff McCreadie had been too severe in his sentencing.

He has instead ordered that Clark be placed on probation for the next three years, subject to a series of conditions.

The 62-year-old’s crimes came to light when a teenage girl confided in a third party that he had been taking photographs of her in her underwear.

Police officers obtained search warrants and a number of the accused’s computers were seized.

He admitted to having taken the photographs in question.

A quantity of child pornography was also recovered from the computers, totalling 13,155 images — the majority of which were at the lowest level of seriousness.

However a little over 100 were more graphic, while some 30 were categorised as level four on the Copine scale, just one level below the most serious.

In his judgment Lord Reed — on the first charge, that of the taking of photographs of the girl — said, “The appellant was a first offender of previous good character.”

The judgement continued, “The sheriff imposed a sentence of 12 months’ imprisonment in respect of that charge, which he had reduced from a starting point of 16 months’ imprisonment.

“It appears to us, given the very limited nature of the activity involved in that charge, that the selection of a custodial sentence was disproportionate.

“This case is very much at the lower end of the scale of cases which might be envisaged.”

He went on to say of the second charge, involving the possession of child pornography, “In the light of that judgment, where an offender possesses a large amount of level one material, that is to say material falling into the lowest category of prohibited material, and no more than a small amount of more serious material, the starting point should be a community service order, although probation or a fine may be appropriate.

“In this case virtually all of the material was at level one, there were no moving images and there was no element of distribution and no commercial aspect.

“In those circumstances, bearing in mind the recommendations of the social inquiry report and the report by the Tay Project, the appropriate disposal in our view was the imposition of a period of probation of three years.”