London ~~ Monday June 25 2007
Judge's mercy for the man who raped 'provocatively dressed' girl of ten
By SAM GREENHILL
A paedophile who raped a ten-year-old girl will be free in just four months after a judge said his young victim had "dressed provocatively".
Window cleaner Keith Fenn, 24, could have been jailed for life after twice attacking the girl in a riverside park.
Judge Julian Hall is at the centre of a storm over the "pathetically" lenient sentence he imposed after hearing that the girl had appeared much older than her age.
The same judge caused uproar earlier this year by setting free another paedophile and telling him to give his victim money "to buy a nice new bicycle".
In the latest case, Oxford Crown Court heard harrowing details of the assault on the ten-year-old. She was attacked in a park in Henley-on-Thames, South Oxfordshire, by Fenn and his accomplice Darren Wright, 34, on October 14 last year.
Fenn removed all her clothes and raped her, then Wright took her to his home in Mount View, Henley-on-Thames, and sexually assaulted her.
Yet Judge Hall - who referred to the girl as a "young woman" - said the case was exceptional because she had been wearing a frilly bra and thong.
The victim, who cannot be named, has been in local authority care since the age of four, and was on her own when she met the pair in the street. They went to the park together.
Sentencing, the judge said he faced a moral dilemma.
"Here is a very young woman of ten who is taken to the park," he said. "Within three-quarters of an hour of meeting a 24-year-old man, they have sex together. That is not a good idea. It is an absolute crime because she was only ten.
"In my experience this has been the most difficult sentencing exercise I have ever had to decide on."
The court heard that the young girl regularly wore make-up, strappy tops and jeans.
The judge said: "It is quite clear she is a very disturbed child and a very needy child and she is a sexually precocious child. She liked to dress provocatively.
"Did she look like she was ten? Certainly not. She looked 16, that was a matter that was accepted."
He gave Fenn concurrent two-year and 18-month sentences but he will be free in just weeks after spending eight months in jail awaiting sentence.
Unemployed Wright is a free man already because the same judge gave him a nine-month jail term for inciting the girl to engage in a sex act. He too had served eight months on remand.
Yesterday Dr Michele Elliott, of Kidscape, said: "This sentencing is beyond pathetic, it is utterly derisory. For the judge to say that the way she was dressed in any way excuses a 24-year-old man having sex with her is disgraceful and ridiculous.
"This judge clearly is not aware of the damage done to kids. He feels that children can contribute to their own abuse in some way."
The NSPCC added: "There's no excuse for having sex with a ten-year-old, no matter how she dresses."
Peter Du Feu, for Fenn, said his client regretted his actions after discovering her age.
"He was thoroughly shocked by the knowledge of what he had done and her age," he said.
Graeme Logan, representing Wright, said: "He is deeply, deeply ashamed and remains in deep shock at finding out her age."
Fenn, of Starwort Path, Oxford, and Wright both looked relieved as they learned their fate.
Fenn had admitted two counts of rape of a child aged under 13 and Wright admitted one charge of causing or inciting sexual activity with a child aged under 13.
They were placed on the Sex Offenders' Register for ten years.
In February, Judge Hall caused uproar when he suggested to Eric Cole - who admitting putting his hands down the trousers of a girl aged just six - that he buy his victim a new bicycle to cheer her up.
He described the convicted paedophile's actions as "quite mild" and gave him a nine-month suspended sentence.
London ~~ Friday February 2 2007
Buy your victim a nice bike, judge tells paedophile
Girl child predator Eric Cole leaving court
A paedophile who sexually abused a six-year-old girl has been set free by a judge who suggested he give his victim money to "buy a nice new bicycle".
Eric Cole, who had already served jail terms for sex attacks, admitted putting his hand down the girl's trousers as she stood in her garden.
Judge Julian Hall told him: "In criminal terms, what you did was quite mild", before giving the 71-year-old a suspended sentence.
Cole was already a convicted paedophile when he attacked the girl last July.
Despite this, Judge Hall, who hit the headlines last year when he shed tears after hearing a mother describe her anguish over her daughter's death, allowed Cole to walk from the court.
Angry relatives of the victim hurled abuse and threats at the defendant from the public gallery as the judge passed sentence at Oxford Crown Court.
Judge Hall imposed a nine-month suspended jail term on Cole as well as ordering him to attend a sexual offenders' programme. He also banned him from being alone with children under the age of 16, for five years.
Cole admitted one charge of sexual assault on a child under the age of 13 years. Handing down the sentence, the judge told Cole to pay his victim compensation of £250, adding: "If it buys her a nice new bicycle, that's the sort of thing that might cheer her up."
The court had earlier been told how the girl's mother had found the defendant pushing his hands down her trousers in a garden in Oxford on July 31 last year. After initially denying the allegation, Cole admitted his guilt on January 4.
Family members screamed at Cole as he waited to be released from the dock. One shouted: "You haven't heard the last from me, mate."
The judge told the court: "I hear the calls, but I ignore them. I have explained I am certain in my own mind this is the best way to protect girls under 16 from the hands of this man."
Cole, now of Bedford, had been jailed for 15 months for a sex attack on a 12-year-old girl in 1998, the court heard. Turning to the defendant, Judge Hall said: "In criminal terms what you did was quite mild, but the effects were serious. If you are not to do this sort of thing again, then you need help.
"The greater chance of children being protected from you in the long term is a Sex Offenders' Prevention Order."
He added: "I want to keep you away from small children."
The court heard how the mother of the girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, interrupted Cole's sex attack.
Dee Connolly, defending, urged the judge not to jail Cole, explaining that he had heart problems and was a carer for his mother.
She also claimed he had already shown remorse for his actions.
In September, Judge Hall, 67, walked out of court dabbing his eyes after reading Elizabeth Davidson's tribute to her daughter Margaret, who was killed by a banned speeding driver.
Dr Davidson, 26, was driving home to Kidlington, Oxfordshire, after a night shift at the Horton Hospital in Banbury when Nolan Haworth, 19, ploughed into her car as he sped to court to face an affray charge.
Wednesday February 07 2007
A sick way to tackle child abuseBy Allison Pearson
Judge Julian Hall told a convicted paedophile at Oxford Crown Court to pay £250 to the six-year-old girl whom he had molested. "If it buys her a nice new bike, that's the sort of thing that might cheer her up," explained this eminent legal mind.
Well, that's a helpful association to plant in a small child's head, isn't it? Strange man tries to put his hands down your pants, you cry, the police come along, then the strange man buys you a present.
With respect, that's not a legal judgment, Your Honour - it's the answer to a paedophile's dreams. And they wonder why the public has more faith in the Tooth Fairy than in the criminal justice system.
Judge Hall, 67, refused to jail Eric Cole justifying his decision by saying this paedophile 'needs help' and that he will only get it outside prison. (Why is there no such help inside jail?)
Instead of the long sentence he deserved, Cole, 71, was given a sexual offences prevention order, making it illegal for him to be alone with a child, and he has to attend a sexual offenders' programme.
A sex offenders' programme is a bit like one of those courses that helps smokers quit. Unfortunately, paedophiles are not addicted to nicotine; they are addicted to children. And they will go to extraordinary lengths to get their fix.
Just look at this week's stomach-churning case of the three internet creeps who planned in grotesque detail the abduction and rape of two 'sweeties'.
I can't be the only person who wishes she hadn't lived to hear the term 'incest chatroom'. Those particular ghouls were jailed, thank goodness, but many judges still seem incapable of grasping what they are up against. Why else would they treat sex offenders as though they were capable of rehabilitation?
Even the Home Office's own research reveals a terrifying probability of paedophiles reoffending.
Yet a high-risk sex offender will be visited by his police minder for a cup of tea and a biccy only every three to six months. Supervision is so lax that a prevention order is next to useless. You might as well put a 'No Bees' notice in front of a herbaceous border.
Yesterday, John Reid came up with another plan to 'protect our children'. He suggested that paedophiles should register their e-mail addresses and an alarm will alert the authorities if they visit websites where they can groom minors.
Does the Home Secretary really not know how easy it is to get multiple aliases online? The new technology is a playground for paedophiles. And a playground, as we know, is their idea of heaven.
When British Telecom called for paedophiles to be banned from using the internet in 2004, objections were raised on 'human rights grounds'. Can someone please tell me what rights a man who rapes toddlers should enjoy?
A woman police constable who monitors child abusers recently told a Sunday newspaper: "Some of these offenders have done things so horrible and dangerous that, if the public knew they were out and walking round the streets, there would be uproar."
And indeed there should be. Instead, we have complacent, elderly judges who seem to think that all a little girl needs to make up for the loss of her innocence is a shiny new bike.