William Walker was sent to prison on 11th February for 9 years for sexually abusing a girl between the ages of 5 and 11. The story was reported mainly because of the way that he was caught – the offences occurred between 1984 and 1989 and were not reported at the time.
The complainant went to speak to Mr Walker about this in 2010 and recorded the conversation (which, it seems, included a confession to the crimes). It is unclear why the case took as long as it did to come to Court after this.
The technological capabilities of smart phones provides huge opportunities to the criminal justice system. This is just another example of how it will change the face of policing.
Why didn’t he get an IPP/Extended Sentence?
Given the sentence passed, it was clearly a set of serious offences. It is not clear if there was a guilty plea, but it would appear so, and therefore the ‘starting point’ for the offence would be in the region of 13 years (after credit for a plea of guilty).
This would normally trigger consideration of whether a ‘dangerousness sentence‘ should be passed. The reason why it did not apply here is that the offences occurred before the 4th April 2005 (when the Criminal Justice Act 2003 came in to force). For this reason, it would not have been possible to pass a sentence of IPP.
We do not have enough details of the offences, or of Mr Walker’s previous criminal activities (if there was one), to see if a ‘new’ Extended Sentence was considered, but it presumably was. We don’t know why one was not imposed however.
In terms of the length of the sentence, whilst there are sentencing guidelines in place, there is currently a consultation on issuing new guidelines, so the courts are somewhat in a state of flux. The starting point at the moment for rape of a child under the age of 13 is 10 years, rising to 13 years if there are aggravating features present (here, there would the other indecent assaults as well as, presumably, a history of grooming). It would appear from the sentence that was handed down that that starting point was taken and coupled with full credit for the plea of guilty. Whilst it was not mentioned in the news report, Mr Walker will be on the Sex Offenders Register for life when he is released.