August 2012

Convicted paedophile walks free because prison ‘would make him more dangerous’

A man convicted of child abuse offences has walked free from court as the judge ruled sending him to prison would make him “dangerous”, in a dilemma the judiciary “face again and again”.

David Swanton, 59, was caught with a collection of images and videos on his laptop after police found he had been talking to a known paedophile online.

He spoke of abusing teenage girls and fantasised about allowing his imaginary daughters be raped by others.

Police found under 500 images on Swanton’s computer, as well as 13 videos, many of which were at the very highest level of depravity, Southwark Crown Court heard.

Many featured children between the ages of three and ten being abused.

Swanton was given an eight months sentence suspended for two years and ordered to undergo a sex offender’s programme after Judge Nicolas Lorraine Smith said jail would not help him.

The judge said as he only had powers to sentence Swanton to short period behind bars, he would not have sufficient time to be effectively treated.

“If I were to sentence you to 12 months in prison, as you have pleaded guilty, you would be legally entitled to a third off your sentence,” he said.

“It would then be one of eight months, and you would be released in four months, which is a short amount of time.

“It would be too short for you to get treatment for addiction – for it is an addiction – you would emerge from prison, in my view, as potentially dangerous.

“This is a problem that judges face again and again in cases of this type.”

Prosecutor Usha Shergill told the court: “After he had been arrested he told officers that he was on MSN to connect with paedophiles and discuss child abuse activities.

“He would take on a persona of a teenage girl, or he would say he had a family with children which he would abuse, and allow others to abuse.”

“His computer, when it was forensically examined found that he had installed cleaning software.

“This had erased the browsing history and content.”

Swanton of New House Station, Blaxton, Doncaster, south Yorkshire, admitted eight counts of making indecent images of children, an one count of possessing extreme pornography.

He was also banned from using a computer, other than in a work environment, if it was not able to be searched by police.

Swanton was also banned from owning computer drive cleaning software.

He will be under the supervision of the probation service for two years and will also have to sign onto the sex offenders register for ten years.