One of the videos is said to have shown the rape of an 18 month old child.
The judge in the case, Michael Baker QC, imposed a suspended jail sentence.
I have today written to the Attorney General, Jeremy Wright, asking him to consider whether the suspended jail sentence can be referred to the Court of Appeal as being "unduly lenient".
I fear, but am not certain, that indecent images cases may not be reviewable.
If that is the case then I believe that the Law should be changed (by an Order under the Criminal Justice Act 1988) to ensure that cases involving indecent videos or images involving children should be reviewable.
I'll report back on this blog when I get a formal response from the Attorney General.
Here is the text of my letter. It includes links to the very limited media coverage of this case.
9th November 2014
To:Jeremy Wright, Attorney GeneralDear Attorney,
Request to review unduly lenient sentence:Simon Lawes: Suspended sentence
I am writing to request that the Attorney General review what I believe to have been an unduly sentence with respect to multiple offences including offences relating to possession of indecent videos and images of children.
The case to which I refer was reported both by today’s Independent and by Hemel Today.
The online versions of those media reports are here:
- Met police officer avoids jail ‘because of his background’ after being caught with ‘seriously disturbing’ child porn
- Former Met police officer avoids prison after being caught possessing thousands of child abuse images ‘because of his background’Identifying information
The media reports do not give all the information requested by the Attorney General’s Office with respect to identifying the case in question.
However the following relevant information is contained in the media reports:
- The accused was Simon Lawes
- The Court is likely to have been in or near Hemel Hempstead
- The judge was Michael Baker QC
- The trial is likely to have taken place on 7th November 2014 or a short time before 7th November
- It is reported that Simon Lawes pleaded guilty to “12 charges of making (downloading) indecent photographs of children, two of possessing indecent images and one of possessing extreme pornography.”
- The sentence was of one year’s imprisonment suspended for two yearsIs the sentence reviewable?
I am not certain that the offences admitted by Simon Lawes are reviewable by the Attorney General. The public information refers only to “some child sex crimes”.
If this case is not reviewable I would suggest that there is something very wrong with the applicable Law. It would suggest that offences relating to indecent films and images are not being taken seriously enough.
Should the Law preclude review of the sentence in this case I ask that the Attorney General takes all steps available to him in order to avoid any repetition of unduly lenient sentences such as that imposed by Judge Michael Baker QC. That request to include a new Order under the Criminal Justice Act 1988.
I request that the Attorney General review two aspects of the sentence:
- Was the sentence of one year’s imprisonment unduly lenient?
- Was it unduly lenient to suspend the sentence of imprisonment?I believe that both the length of the sentence and its being suspended were both unduly lenient.
My reasons for such a belief include the following:
- The large number of films/videos possesed by Simon Lawes – 348, of which 226 were Category A, the most severe category
- In one film an 18 month old baby was raped.3. The large number of indecent still images – 22344. The possession of 212 extreme images involving human sexual activity with horses, dogs and pigs5. The use of public property to store the images. One computer was the property of City of London Police.6. The likelihood that at least some of the offences were committed while Simon Lawes was a serving Metropolitan Police Service officer (1991 to December 2013).
Actions requested of you
I ask that you promptly acknowledge receipt of this request for review of an unduly lenient sentence. I ask that you do so by letter.
I ask that you give careful consideration as to the factors listed earlier in this letter and also consider the increasing public concern about the issue of child sexual abuse.
There is, so far as I’m aware, no suggestion that Simon Lawes himself took part in such child sexual abuse but it those like Simon Lawes who view child abuse images that provide the market incentive for the creation of child abuse videos and images.
(Dr) Andrew Watt