Longer sentence in ‘predatory’ case

A paedophile who walked free from court after his 13-year-old victim was branded “predatory” by a prosecutor has had his sentence increased due to a technicality.

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Neil Wilson was handed an eight-month suspended sentence after admitting engaging in sexual activity with the girl, as well as separate counts of making indecent images, at Snaresbrook Crown Court in east London last week.

News that prosecutor Robert Colover had labelled the young victim “predatory” and “sexually experienced” caused outrage and led to his suspension from prosecuting sexual offence cases pending a review by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

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Judge Nigel Peters QC is also being investigated by the Office for Judicial Complaints for remarking that his sentence took into account how the girl looked and behaved.

Judge Peters altered Wilson’s sentence today, at a brief hearing at Snaresbrook Crown Court, after admitting it needed correction.

Making no reference to the storm surrounding the case during the 10-minute hearing, the judge altered Wilson’s total sentence to 12 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, but kept the sentence for sexual activity with a child the same, at eight months suspended for two years.

Explaining the decision to Wilson, who appeared via videolink from York Magistrates’ Court, the judge told him: “I have had the matter listed before me today as part of the sentence, not that part relating to sexual activity with a child, requires correcting.

“It was not appreciated by the parties that I could not pass a community order with a supervision requirement for three years to run alongside a suspended sentence on the same indictment or indeed another indictment sentenced on the same occasion.

“In amending the sentence I have sought to ensure that all parts of the order will be complied with by the defendant and that any breach will be brought before a court and consideration given to further penalty, including immediate imprisonment.”

He said he was revoking a community order and imposing additional suspended jail terms for two counts involving indecent photographs, and another indictment involving five counts of possessing extreme pornographic images.

The addition of the suspended sentences was commensurate with the reduction of the supervision element from three to two years, he said.

A sexual offences prevention order remains in place.

Wilson already faces having his sentence reviewed after Attorney General Dominic Grieve agreed to examine the case.

Prime Minister David Cameron has said the CPS was ‘’absolutely right’’ to label Mr Colover’s comments “inappropriate”.

Shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan said the judge should take the opportunity to apologise to the young victim at the hearing.

He said: “Bearing in mind Judge Peters’ outrageous comments were deeply offensive and will have done untold damage to the confidence of victims and witnesses in the criminal justice system, I would expect the judge to try and rectify the damage he has done at this apt opportunity.

“This also provides Judge Peters with the perfect opportunity to also apologise to the child victim of this crime.”