October 2018

Here’s why paedophile caught with child sex doll walked free from court

A paedophile caught with a child sex doll and a stash of indecent images today walked free from court.

Michael Gallagher said he bought the disturbing 3ft 2in silicon model – sporting “childlike” features save for adult-sized breasts – for £590 on eBay.

But the 60-year-old pervert claimed he thought he was getting an adult version and only chose a small figure because they were cheaper.

And Liverpool Crown Court heard it is not against the law to possess child sex dolls in the UK – despite the fact it is illegal to import them.

Officers first caught Gallagher with 625 indecent photos on a Dell tower computer in March 2015, but he was spared jail in July 2016.

The dad-of-two was instead handed a three-year community order and hit with a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) for five years.

The SHPO meant Gallagher was not allowed to use the internet unless he recorded and disclosed all of his browsing history.

Merseyside Police paid a routine visit to check his laptop at his home at East Float Quay in Dock Road, Birkenhead on October 5 last year.

An officer discovered he had looked at an advert for a sex doll, described as a “silicon adult” model, and asked whether he had bought it.

Neil Bisarya, prosecuting, said Gallagher confirmed he had and took him to his bedroom to see the doll, which was “the size of a child”.

Pictures of the model, which the detective described as “a childlike sex doll” because of its “height and nature”, were shown in court.

The officer said: “It is small basically, the hands are small, the feet are small, the size of the doll itself is child size.

“Obviously with the breasts it’s a different matter.”

And while he admitted breaching his SHPO by using Incognito mode on Google Chrome, he said this was only for looking at transgender websites.

These claims were rejected by prosecutors and today a Newton Hearing – a form of mini-trial to establish disputed facts – had to be held.

Gallagher said the memory stick – mostly containing music – was in his car when police first raided his home and he had forgotten about it.

He said he accidentally transferred the images with some MP3s months later and when he realised he immediately deleted them.

Gallagher said he used Incognito out of “embarrassment”, so his two adults sons would not discover he was “into the transgender scene”.

He said “I made a blatant mistake there – an error through foolish stupidity” and denied using this browsing mode to look at child sex abuse.

A police expert said he could not date the images or say how they came to be on his hard drive, but evidence suggested it was not via Incognito browsing.

Mr Bisarya conceded he was therefore unable to challenge Gallagher’s explanation and had to accept his basis of plea.

Judge Gary Woodhall said “whatever suspicions” he might have about Gallagher’s evidence, he was bound to sentence him on the accepted basis.

He said it was a “technical breach” and had Gallagher been sentenced for the pictures in 2016, it probably would not have affected his sentence.

Judge Woodhall handed him a new 12-month community order, with a three-month home curfew, between 7pm and 6am daily.

He told Gallagher to sign on the Sex Offenders Register and to comply with a new Sexual Harm Prevention Order for five years.