October 2008

Widnes paedophile told to control his urges

A PAEDOPHILE who secretly stashed indecent images of children on his computer was spared jail – when a judge ruled that prison ‘would not help him control his urges’.

Thirty-year-old Christopher Penman, formerly of Avondale Drive, Widnes, was found to have 41 pornographic images of children on his home computer, only seven years after he was disgracefully discharged from the armed forces for taking indecent photographs of under 18s.

Penman, also known by the name of Christopher Cronin, pleaded guilty to the fresh charges and was sentenced at Warrington Crown Court on Monday.

Gareth Roberts QC, prosecuting, told the court how Penman, a slender man with glasses and a ginger moustache, had his computer confiscated last September amid concerns about a 15-year-old girl he had been chatting to online.

Forensic experts who examined his computer discovered 41 indecent images of children contained in various thumbnail attachments, which had been downloaded and deleted in a bid to hide the files.

The court also heard how Penman had been court martialled and disgracefully discharged from the armed forces in Colchester in 2000 after he took indecent photographs of children and hid them in his locker.

He was sentenced to six months in jail and ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register – a sentence which had not expired by the time he reoffended last year.

Daniel Dennis QC, defending, argued that Penman, who had been detained in the Linden Bank bail hostel for the last three months, warranted credit for his guilty plea.

But Judge Nicholas Woodward, who highlighted the extreme depravity of two of the 41 images on Penman’s computer, told the defendant: “I’m inclined to follow the recommendations of the probation service and hand you a community order that will severely limit the way you live your life – and that is a result of the behaviour you’ve indulged in.”

Judge Woodward ruled that Penman must attend a sex offenders’ programme and continue to be supervised at Linden Bank bail hostel for the next three years.

He also imposed a stringent seven-year Sexual Offences Prevention Order, with conditions including not having access to a computer and not having any unsupervised