June 2001

Judge blasts fine for child sex images

A JUDGE yesterday criticised magistrates who imposed only a fine on a man who hoarded Internet images of men having sex with children as young as five.

A leading children’s charity urged courts to take child pornography more seriously after John Linsley was allowed to walk free.

Yesterday, Judge Peter Fox jailed Linsley’s co-accused Tony Allison – who opted to be tried by jury at Teesside Crown Court – for nine months and ordered him to be placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register.

Allison, 28, formerly of Eldon Lane, Bishop Auckland, but now living in Shildon, pleaded guilty to distributing child pornography.

Peter Makepeace, prosecuting, said Allison and Linsley had been students on a college information technology course in Spennymoor, County Durham.

Mark Styles, defending, said Allison, an unemployed father-of-two, should have a sentence to match the fine given to Linsley.

But Judge Fox told Allison: “This type of photography these courts see so frequently is the preliminary to child sex abuse.

“And it is this kind of distribution which generates that kind of distortion of a child’s upbringing and loss of innocence.

“That is why it is astonishing that the magistrates fined your co-accused Linsley, apparently a willing recipient of these images.

“There is no question that you must go to prison as an example to others and to deter people from abusing children in this horrific way.”

At an earlier hearing at Sedgefield Magistrates’ Court, Linsley, of Ferryhill, County Durham, pleaded guilty to possessing 15 pictures of men having sex with children, some as young as five.

The images were discovered in a bedroom at his home by police investigating a burglary.

Linsley was put on the Sex Offenders’ Register for five years, and fined £100 with £55 costs.

John Carr, Internet consultant for children’s charity NCH, said child pornography should be seen as a serious crime.

He said: “Each of these photographs records the scene of a crime and anyone who produces, distributes or possesses child pornographic images is involved in crimes against children.”