June 2011

Sex act golfer escapes prison

A man who pleaded guilty to paying for the sexual services of a child has escaped being jailed.

Roger Altham, 57, of Chatburn Park Drive, Clitheroe, was given a six month prison sentence, suspended for two years.

He admitted paying for the sexual services of a male child and arranging or soliciting child prostitution, at a hearing on April 17.

The victim, now 17, was aged 16 at the time of the offences.

The court heard how the victim was described as a “vulnerable child”.

He visited Altham’s house twice and met him in a pub once after being introduced by a relative. He was paid £20 to engage in sexual activity with Altham.

Richard English, prosecuting at Preston Crown Court, said: “He gave (the victim) beer and cigarettes and asked him if he wanted to earn some money. “He was under the impression Mr Altham used to be a lawyer and had a lot of money.”

Police followed the victim and his relative to Altham’s home last year after adults who knew him became concerned.

Altham, a keen golfer, was arrested and the boy was interviewed by the police’s Engage team, which investigates the sexual exploitation of youngsters.

Judge Andrew Woolman, during sentencing, said: “In 2003, parliament considered the appropriate age at which children should be protected from offences like these and it concluded that 18 was the appropriate age.

“Whether you knew that is a different matter, it’s still a criminal offence. I accept there are no aggravating features. (The victim) was a willing participant in what went on. He needed the money, no doubt.”

He said that the fact he had given him beer and cigarettes was “not relevant in the present circumstances”.

He added: “You pleaded guilty at the first opportunity and you were frank with the police. “You were a well respected member of the community. “Part of the punishment in this case is your life has been torn apart by what you have done.”

He was made the subject of a 12-month supervision order, a five-year sexual offences prevention order, was ordered to pay £670 costs and was disqualified from working with children indefinitely