Judge has second 'lenient' child-sex sentence referred

Click to follow
The Independent Online

A children's charity attacked a judge yesterday, claiming he was "trivialising" child abuse and making it harder for victims to come forward, after a second sentence he imposed on a child molester was referred to the Court of Appeal because of its leniency.

The child protection charity Kidscape also argued that the judiciary should be given training on the effect of their post-sentence comments.

Judge Julian Hall faced strong criticism yesterday for imposing a three-year supervision order on a 17-year-old boy who abused two children, a girl aged five and a boy of seven. Judge Hall said he did not believe the teenager was sufficiently dangerous to be imprisoned. A two-year jail sentence Judge Hall passed on window cleaner Keith Fenn, 25, last year for raping a 10-year-old girl was doubled by the Court of Appeal. The judge was criticised for describing the victim as "a very young woman of 10" who "liked to dress provocatively". The judge had also previously caused controversy when he suggested another convicted molester buy his six-year-old victim a bike.

Yesterday, Claude Knights, the director of Kidscape, said such comments and the "derisory" sentences sent the wrong message to victims and parents. "These comments trivialise the crime and make it more difficult for victims – who always feel it is their fault and often don't believe they will be taken seriously – to come forward," she said.

Child expert Dr Pat Spungin, who runs the Raisingkids website, said: "The public tends to judge a crime by the sentence, so the sentence should reflect the seriousness of it."