January 2010

Schoolgirl’s phone snap nabs serial sex pest

A 12-YEAR-OLD girl helped collar a serial sex offender – by bravely taking photos of him on her mobile phone.

Flasher Bretton Wood had exposed himself to the girl a year earlier and when she spotted him again, she started taking snaps of him on her camera phone

The youngster, who was with two friends, also aged 12, then followed Wood to his car and took his registration number.

When police arrested Wood, 44, they found he had committed four offences, three involving young girls.

Detective Sergeant Graham Prince, one of the officers who investigated Wood, said the girl and her friends were “very brave”.

“They have helped with the removal of a dangerous sexual offender from the streets of Derbyshire, which is commendable,” he said.

Judge Andrew Hamilton said the girl who took the photographs should be commended for what she had done.

“Without her, this man would have never been brought to justice,” he said.

He ordered that the girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, should be paid £200 from public funds.

He said: “To be able to remember somebody, to pick them out later and carry out her own investigation shows great initiative.”

At Derby Crown Court yesterday, a string of orders were imposed on Wood to prevent him carrying out further similar offences in the future, including one to stay away from children and that he must wear at least one item of clothing over his underwear in public.

Gillian Foxcroft, prosecuting, said Wood pleaded guilty at a hearing on December 2 to three charges of engaging in a sexual act in the presence of a child under the age of 16.

At the same hearing, he had also admitted one offence of outraging public decency.

The court heard that Wood’s first offence was in Gloucester in January 2001 when he exposed himself to a 32-year-old woman and her friend.

Wood, of Derby Road, Swanwick, struck again on May 4, 2005, this time exposing himself to two 13-year-old girls in a recreation ground in South Street, South Normanton.

His next offence was in Derby on September 4, 2007. Two 15-year-old girls, in a park in Waterford Drive, Chaddesden, were offered £50 by Wood to watch him perform a sex act.

Ms Foxcroft told the court that they agreed to watch out of fear, but ran off when Wood asked them to go with him to collect the money.

A year later, on May 12, 2008, Wood exposed himself in front of four girls in the park area of Beaulieu Way, Swanwick.

Thirteen months later, three of the victims from that incident saw him in a different park in Swanwick and followed him. One took the pictures of Wood, which were handed to police and led to his arrest.

Officers recovered DNA from the scene of all the offences and, once Wood was arrested, were able to establish it was his.

Martin Hurst, for Wood, said: “He is intensely remorseful for his behaviour and demonstrates absolute regret. He is utterly disgusted and repelled at what he has done.”

Judge Hamilton sentenced Wood, who sobbed in court during proceedings, to a three-year community order with a supervision requirement. He must complete a 60-day sex offender programme.

A Sexual Offences Prevention Order was also imposed, which prevents Wood from being in the company of children under 16 without their parents’ or guardians’ permission.

He must not visit parks, amusement arcades, schools, swimming pools or any place used by people under the age of 16, or go within 60 metres of them, for the rest of his life.

Wood was also banned from working with children and will also have to inform the police of any change of address for the next five years, as well as signing the sexual offenders’ register for five years.

Judge Hamilton said had Wood not already served 204 days in prison on remand, an appropriate sentence would be three years in prison. Had that term been imposed, he would have been eligible for release in four-and-a-half months.

He said: “I have to not only punish you but protect children from what you might do in the future but it seems to me that there is little protection in locking you up. If you were to commit another offence you will come back before me and you will get three years.

“I suspect that I will take the view that you are a positive danger to young people and make an extended sentence that will be indeterminate.”

Judge Hamilton said the offences were “clearly more serious than normal flashing offences”.

He added: “Quite why you do it is a mystery and it seems to me that it is something that needs investigating.”

The mother of one of the victims said afterwards that she was disappointed Wood was not jailed.

“It is something that my daughter still worries about and isn’t going to forget and I don’t think he has paid a big enough price for that.”