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Sex offender appeals against six year sentence for giving sweets to girl, 6

PUBLISHED: 15:46 21 May 2020 | UPDATED: 17:29 21 May 2020

Peter Nigel Ashford, 66, from Lowestoft has been jailed for six years for breaching a sexual harm prevention order. PHOTO: Suffolk Police

Peter Nigel Ashford, 66, from Lowestoft has been jailed for six years for breaching a sexual harm prevention order. PHOTO: Suffolk Police

Archant

A repeat sex offender has had an appeal against his six-year prison sentence rejected.

Peter Nigel Ashford, of Wellington Esplanade in Lowestoft, breached a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) by giving sweets and painted rocks to a six-year-old girl.

The 67-year-old was jailed at Ipswich Crown Court on May 14, 2019 after admitting two breaches of the SHPO, which banned him from communicating with children and loitering near schools or play areas, as well as two counts of breaching a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO).

After being handed two consecutive three-year prison sentences for the breaches, which occurred weeks after the latest SHPO was made in January 2019, Ashford appealed against the length of the sentence at a Court of Appeal hearing on Thursday, May 21.

Steven Dyble, for Ashford, said: “The sentence was manifestly excessive. The criticism I make is in relation to the harm posed as there was no serious risk of harm being caused.

“All of the limited contact was in the presence of the girl’s mother and there was no suggestion of physical contact between him and the girl.

“It was a common place to exercise animals and the initial conversation was about the girl’s lost puppy.

“While there may be suspicion of the motivation that he obtained sexual gratification, it cannot be said the contact created a very serious risk of harm.”

Ashford also appealed against a change to the terms of the SHPO made at his sentencing hearing, which was quashed on Thursday, although the previous order remains in place.

The court heard how Ashford has a history of convictions for sexual offences, including intercourse with a girl under 16, sexual assault and buggery.

Lord Justice Holroyde said: “There was repeat offending and each offence was seriously aggravated by his previous convictions and there are no grounds it can be argued that the sentence is disproportionate.

“However, while we agree the terms of the previous order were ambiguous, the judge had no power to vary the terms of the SHPO made by the magistrate’s court.”

Sentencing last year, Judge Martyn Levett said Ashford had an entrenched sexual interest in young children and he had a duty to protect the public from the harm he posed.

He said: “You are one of a small cohort of sex offenders who simply cannot avoid coming into contact or communicating with young children despite the efforts of the courts.”


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