Paedophile who crashed car into Downing Street is spared jail

Seth Kneller was caught with eight images of children on his Samsung after the crash

Holly Evans
Tuesday 26 September 2023 14:36 BST
Moment car crashes into Downing Street gates

An IT worker who rammed his car into the gates of Downing Street and caused a massive security alert has avoided a jail sentence.

Seth Kneller, from Crewe, was also found with indecent images of children on his phone shortly after armed police arrested him at the scene.

The 43-year-old had posted a video to TikTok shortly before the crash on May 25, telling his followers: “Somebody has to pay”.

Kneller was found with indecent images of children on his phone

At around 4.20pm, he was behind the wheel of a silver Kia that crashed into the gates near prime minister’s official residence.

No injuries were reported and despite the immediate security response, the Met Police swiftly announced the incident was not being treated as terror-related.

Rishi Sunak was in No10 at the time of the crash, with Kneller causing the front set of gates to swing open before his vehicle was stopped by a second set of barriers.

When his phone was examined as part of the police investigation it was found to contain three category A indecent images of children, the most serious type, and five category C images.

The victims depicted were aged eight to 12. Kneller was found to have accessed a website known to contain indecent images of children 393 times.

The prosecutor said Kneller’s actions were “pre-planned and deliberate”, which “clearly raised concerns” the attack was a terrorist one.

He added: “He was well aware that armed officers were on duty and that the consequences of his actions could have been catastrophic.”

During a previous appearance at Southwark Crown Court, he pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, and separately admitted two charges of making indecent images of children over eight pictures found on his phone.

His actions were described as ‘pre-planned and deliberate’

In a video clip posted to social media ahead of the incident, he said: “But I feel is the responsibility of Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss, Boris Johnson and those who have gone before him and ruining our country and somebody has to pay.

“We have to make a statement. And that’s what’s gonna happen.”

The court previously heard that Kneller has autism, ADHD and diabetes, and has previously sought treatment for “having an attraction” to children.

Kneller had no previous convictions but was cautioned for assault occasioning actual bodily harm in 2007.

In mitigation, his barrister Charles Hannaford said his client was suffering from a “mental health breakdown” at the time of the Downing Street crash.

He added: “This is not an individual who has thought through the consequences of their actions and how they would affect another individual.”

Kneller succeeded in swinging the first set of gates open

Judge Christopher Hehir said Kneller launched an “attack on democracy” but was persuaded to spare him prison.

He told him: “You quite deliberately performed a highly dangerous manoeuvre. There was a real risk of serious injury or death to police officers or innocent members of the public.

“There are always members of the public thronging in the vicinity of 10 Downing Street.

“You chose to launch a violent attack on a place which is a government location and in many ways a symbol of democracy.

“Your violent attack on it must be regarded by the courts as being of the utmost seriousness.

“You are not guilty of any contact abuse of children, but if it was not for people like you who consume these images, the abuse in question would most likely not take place.”

The judge said the defendant’s lack of previous convictions, early guilty pleas, the fact he has served the equivalent of an eight-month prison sentence, mental health and “good prospect” of rehabilitation persuaded him to spare the defendant jail.

Kneller’s 15-month prison term was suspended for two years and he must complete 30 rehabilitation days and 27 days of a separate rehabilitation programme.

He was also banned from driving for 18 months, can no longer use the phone and car used in the offending and was made the subject of a seven-year sexual harm prevention order.

The bespectacled defendant, who wore a blue shirt and purple tie, said “thank you, I am very grateful, your honour” after being spared jail.

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