On 11th April 2013 Billy Wheatley, a former PCSO (Police Community Support Officer) was sentenced to 5½ years for various offences. The details are scant, but one question that is often asked is whether such a person will get preferential treatment – ie, will they get a lower sentence?
The general answer to that is, contrary to popular belief, no. The way that this case is reported by the BBC gives a good example of how misconceptions in relation to sentencing come about. There is pretty much no information as what it was that Mr Wheatley actually did.
The Sexual Offences Guidelines are the relevant guidelines. The sentencing for sexual assault starts at page 31 and for indecent images at page 109.
We are told that there were two ‘attacks’ (presumably indecent assaults, or sexual assaults, depending on when they are committed). There may however have been other ‘contact’ offences, but we don’t know. We also don’t how serious (in the scale of things) these offences were. The sentencing range if from a Community Order to up to 8 years in prison.
Mr Wheatley also had ‘more than 69,000’ images and video of children. The sentence range for this could be between a non-custodial Community Order up to 9 years in prison depending on the ‘levels’ of the images and whether they were shown to other people.
We do know that he pleaded guilty which seems to indicate that the starting point that the Judge too was in the region of 7-8 years which would place it at the top of the offending range, but we cannot say any more than that.