January 2015: Now living in Consett

April 2011

Judge: Victim, 13, seduced paedo

A JUDGE has sparked fury by freeing a paedophile — after saying his 13-year-old victim had seduced HIM.

Twisted David Barnes, 24, encouraged the teenager to perform intimate acts while he watched on a webcam.

Police investigating the case also found the pervert had downloaded more than 600 vile pictures and videos on his computer.

One showed the rape of a five-year-old girl while she was handcuffed.

He admitted 17 specimen charges of making indecent images and one of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

But when he appeared before Judge Peter Fox for sentencing at Teesside Crown Court he was allowed to walk free with a suspended sentence.

Incredibly Judge Fox handed out the lenient sentence despite saying: “The probation officer in your case has written of a high risk of harm which you pose and that that risk is of a sexual nature to children.”

He told Barnes: “I accept it has been a dreadful shock to your mother, to your father and to your grandmother and to those others who have known you.

“And in addition (to the images), there was your perverted activities over the internet with the 13-year-old, who, I accept, appears to have seduced you.”

He even admitted the public would be “puzzled to say the least” by the decision.

The judge triggered similar outrage three years ago when he freed a 40-year-old mum who had had sex with a lad of 14 after saying the teenager had seduced her.

The Court of Appeal later said her sentence was too lenient and locked her up for a year.

The National Victims’ Association blasted Judge Fox’s latest ruling.

Spokesman Neil Atkinson said: “Thirteen-year-olds have to be protected. It goes without saying, they are children.

“Intellectually, ethically and legally, this girl – or anyone of that age – could not possibly have been on the same level as a man in his 20s.

“No 13-year-old can be realistically accused of seducing a man of this age. We find it incomprehensible that a judge could say so.

“It is abhorrent that anyone in their 20s should, in effect, go unpunished for something that could have led to a far more serious offence.”

Shopworker Barnes, of Darlington, Co Durham, was arrested in 2009 after cops in Stoke investigated chatroom conversations the 13-year-old was having with a number of adult males.

Judge Fox, who gave him credit for pleading guilty and for being of previous good character, said there was no point in a short jail term because it would not stop him re-offending.

He said that a sex offender treatment programme he was on would not be available behind bars.

The judge said: “Many people must be puzzled to say the very least at the leniency of the guideline sentencing.

“I, of course, express no view.

“If I sent you to prison it would be for a matter of a few weeks only, hence, as I say, the puzzlement that many people would have about that.

“The few weeks you would spend in prison would do nothing to stop you doing this again. My concern is for the future – the protection of other children.”

Kieran Rainey, mitigating, admitted his client had “character flaws”.

Barnes was given a four-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, with supervision and 300 hours of unpaid work for the community.

In 2009 Judge Fox allowed a man who had had sex with two girls aged 13 and 15 to walk free after asking lawyers if the girls were virgins. Jonathan Kent, 21, was given a suspended sentence.

And in 2001 he also gave Mark Eyles, 23, a suspended sentence for indecently assaulting three teenage girls after the judge branded the victims “silly”.

The charity ChildLine called the judge’s comments in that case “outrageous”.