Sex offender spared jail following 'unjust delay' by police in Sheffield
A sex offender caught with nearly 1,200 indecent images of children aged as young as five was today spared jail following what a judge described as an ‘unjust delay’ by police in Sheffield.
Toni Prince, of Infirmary Road, Upperthorpe, downloaded 1,191 indecent images of children, including some of children being raped.
Police also found an ‘extremely unsettling' handwritten table in her bedside drawer, which contained words including ‘rape’ and ‘torture’, when they raided the 55-year-old’s home.
Prince, whose legal forename is Anthony but who identifies as a woman and goes by the name Toni, admitted her crimes after being arrested on June 14, 2016.
Sentencing her today, Judge Peter Kelson QC described it as a 'very serious case’ and voiced his concerns over the delay in bringing her to justice, which he said police accepted was ‘entirely’ their fault.
“When there has been, as there clearly has been here, an unjust delay which is not in any way, shape or form your fault, I’m bound by the law to take it into account, and I do so,” he told the defendant.
He sentenced Prince to six months imprisonment, suspended for one year, meaning she will not be jailed unless she commits a further offence during the next 12 months.
She was also made the subject of a 10-year sexual harm prevention order and given a 34-day rehabilitation activity requirement.
Prince had previously admitted making indecent images of children, possessing prohibited images of children, and possessing extreme pornographic images. In legal terms ‘making’ images can refer to downloading them, which is what she had done.
In total, she downloaded 108 images classed as category A, which is the most serious; 90 falling into category B; and 993 category C ones.
She also downloaded 53 images of ‘extreme pornography’ and 337 prohibited images of children, which the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) defines as ‘non-photographic’ images including ‘cartoons, manga and drawings’.
The court heard how South Yorkshire Police first submitted a file to the CPS on August 5, 2016 but officers were asked to provide details of the content found on the devices seized from Prince’s home.
Despite being chased by the CPS, it was another two years before police eventually resubmitted the file with this additional evidence on August 15, 2018, and Prince eventually appeared in court for the first time on April 16 this year.
Ian Goldsack, defending, told how Prince had been a victim of childhood abuse.
He said she had made ‘significant’ strides since being arrested, by voluntarily attending many hours of counselling in an attempt to address the problems which led to her accessing child pornography.
Judge Kelson read a statement from the counsellor who had seen Prince, who described her as the ‘most vulnerable client we have worked with in terms of the effect of her early trauma on her mental and physical health’ but added that she was also the most ‘committed’ to addressing her problems.
Mr Goldsack told how the University of Sheffield, where Prince was studying for a PhD, had been informed of the investigation following Prince’s arrest. When the university asked police for an update last year, he said it was wrongly informed that no charges were being brought and it passed this information on to Prince.
Gurdial Singh, prosecuting, said the delay was ‘down to negligence to put it bluntly’ on the part of those investigating.