DCSIMG

Whiting judge defends ‘too lenient’ sentence

A JUDGE who sentenced child killer Roy Whiting to four years in jail in 1995 for sexually assaulting a young girl yesterday said: "I’ve no regrets."

Whiting went on to kill Sarah Payne, eight, after serving just over two years of his sentence, passed down by Judge John Gower.

The judge, who is now retired, said criticism that the sentence was too short was "water off a duck’s back".

He added: "I passed a just and proper sentence, and I’ve no regrets about it."

He said he had told Whiting he was giving him the maximum possible credit for his guilty plea and for his frankness in admitting what he’d done.

Judge Gower said he told the defendant: "The sentence of the court upon you, which is one properly punishing you for what you have done, is four years imprisonment on each account, to be served concurrently."

The judge told BBC Radio 4 Today programme: "That was a perfectly, proper, right and just sentence. What people don’t realise is that no judge, as it were, passes a sentence off the top of his head."

Judge Gower added that judges would refer to guidelines, and case law and then pass a sentence which he or she considered to be just and appropriate in the light of current parameters.

He said he would have to research the current sentencing guidelines before answering whether, in hindsight, it was appropriate . He added: "I suspect that today the sentence would be heavier.

"I am not going to say that there was too lenient a regime, but I have absolutely no hesitation in saying that in my view the Court of Appeal’s attitude to sexual offences was perhaps not quite as severe as some of the lesser judiciary would have liked.

"We are not a fascist state yet, and I hope we never shall be, and we are not in the business in our criminal justice system of punishing people for offences which they have yet to commit."

Judge Gower said the law which created the Sexual Offenders Register had been a knee-jerk reaction and not fully thought out.

He added: "My own view is that a general public naming and shaming would be totally pointless because it is naive to assume that a paedophile is going to operate on his own doorstep, that he is going to give rein to his disgusting tendencies and as he knows that he’s known in his area, he is going to go into some other area.

"But having said that, I certainly think that when somebody who has been released from a sentence for molesting a child ... That his name and his whereabouts ought to be made known to relevant head teachers in his area."

The parents of Sarah Payne later said Whiting should have been kept in prison longer.

Sara and Michael Payne said that a psychiatrist’s report at the time of the first case involving Whiting said there was a risk of him reoffending.

Mrs Payne said: "That should have been enough to keep him inside."

 
 
 

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