May 2017

Billericay sex offender who viewed indecent images of children is spared jail

A sex offender who admitted viewing indecent images of children online while his wife was dying of cancer has been spared jail.

James Wakeling, 60, admitted three counts of making indecent images of children and one count of possessing an indecent image which featured a dog.

Wakeling, of Bunting Lane, in Billericay, appeared before Basildon Crown Court to be sentenced on Thursday morning (May 18).

Outlining the facts of the case, prosecutor Roxanne Aisthorpe said: “This is a matter which begins life on September 27, 2016 when police attended the address of the defendant where he was arrested on suspicion of possessing indecent images of children.

“He was allowed to get dressed before going to the police station and he told police he would show them where to look.

“Police seized three digital devices; two computer towers and a laptop.”

Ms Aisthorpe told the court that Wakeling’s devices contained both moving and still images, 36 from the most serious Category A, 24 from Category B and 64 from Category C.

“The majority of the images seemed to depict smaller children between eight and 12 years old,” explained Ms Aisthorpe.

“There were some images where the children were younger and some where they were older.

“Search terms used included ‘eight-year-old’, ‘pre-teen upskirt’ and ‘paedo upskirt’.

“He made admissions as to what was found on his computers and says he does not have an attraction to children.”

Mitigating for Wakeling, Ian Clift told the court his client had difficult circumstances that caused him to turn to searching for explicit images, particularly the death of his wife.

“He has no previous convictions and not only did he cooperate with the police, he also made full admission and he followed it up with a prompt guilty plea,” said Mr Clift.

“It has been a tragic couple of years. His wife of thirty years was diagnosed with cancer and she passed away last year.

“This caused a massive strain on Mr Wakeling. During the course of her deterioration he sought solace in the internet.

“He was trying to shock himself into an emotional response.”

Mr Clift went onto explain how his client had come to realise how “abhorrent” the images were and how he had lost his job as a result of the proceedings.

“He lost his job, then he lost his wife, then his father was killed in a road traffic accident,” said Mr Clift.

“He will be moving to Cornwall to provide care for his mother who is in her 90s.

“He accepts he is here through his own stupidity.”

Passing sentence, Judge David Pugh said: “In relation to the children, it is important to note that these are not victimless crimes.

“Any child who is in those images has been abused and it is people like you that access these images that help that sort of abuse.”

Taking into account Wakeling’s guilty plea, Judge Pugh sentenced him to a 24-month community order and made him subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order.

In addition, Wakeling, who was rated by the probation service as having a low risk of re-offending, was ordered to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work, complete 60 rehabilitation days and pay £425 in prosecution costs.

Although Judge Pugh authorised the prosecution’s application for the seziure of the two computer towers, he allowed Wakeling to keep his laptop after Mr Clift argued it had only been used to search for indecent images but not to store them.

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