Outrage as paedophile David Walton wins jail term appeal
A SERIAL paedophile facing a potential life sentence after a pornography network was smashed has walked free from prison, sparking outrage among child abuse charities.
David Walton was jailed indefinitely in 2009 after a mobile phone containing sick images was discovered on the number 100 bus from the Metrocentre to central Newcastle.
The phone, belonging to pervert Michael Fraser, led to a police probe which uncovered a child porn ring centring around Walton.
And when they raided the 51-year-old’s home on Rawling Road, Bensham, Gateshead, they discovered two more mobiles containing scores of vile images.
Walton had been distributing the pictures to a network of perverts across the country in exchange for his phones being topped up with credit. And as further handsets were recovered during a large-scale operation, codenamed Cammell, more than 70 suspects were identified in police force areas up and down the country.
Now convicted child porn dealer Walton has had his potentially lifelong conviction quashed at the Court of Appeal and is due to be released on licence.
Today, charity chiefs blasted the decision and said sentences “should be appropriate to the crimes committed and should reflect the harm and long-term impact on children”.
An NSPCC spokeswoman said: “The phenomenal amount of indecent images being circulated is a major problem that needs to be urgently tackled.
“More and more children are being abused so these pictures can be produced. We must not forget that behind every one of the images this man shared there are children who have been sexually assaulted and will need intensive support to overcome their experiences.
“In determining sentences it is vitally important to consider the risks posed by offenders and how they are monitored and supervised to prevent future offences.”
Walton already had a string of child porn convictions to his name when he was jailed for possessing and distributing indecent images at Newcastle Crown Court in December 2009.
He was given a term of imprisonment for public protection (IPP), an open-ended sentence almost identical to a standard life term.
But he was freed when three senior judges at the Court of Appeal said such sentences should be reserved for the most dangerous criminals.
Giving judgment, Lord Justice Hughes, sitting with Mr Justice Ramsey and Mr Justice Irwin, substituted a five-year term, allowing Walton’s release on licence.
Although Walton had been in trouble for an indecent assault in the 1990s, his more recent offending had been limited to dealing with child pornography, the judge said. He was jailed in 2001 for possessing indecent images of children and then in 2002 and 2005 for offences involving distribution to other offenders.
Walton told a probation officer he had assumed the identity of an 18-year-old woman and used the internet to make contact with perverts, who he sold images to.
“It follows that this is a comparatively sophisticated example of carefully planned distribution of child pornography and it’s an example of it committed after three recent previous convictions,” said the appeal judge.
Walton’s barrister, Tom Gent, launched his appeal by arguing that there was insufficient evidence that Walton posed such a danger. It was almost 20 years since his last “contact” offence, he said.
Giving judgment, Lord Justice Hughes said: “Such sentences are reserved for defendants who present a significant risk of serious harm, death or serious personal injury, physical or psychological, to the public.”
As Walton would serve only half of his new five-year sentence in prison before release on licence, the decision meant he was immediately eligible for release.
THE chance discovery of a mobile phone sparked a nationwide operation that cracked a child porn ring operating across the country.
Vile images of vulnerable youngsters were stockpiled in Michael Fraser’s home and stored on his mobile phones.
But it was only when the pervert left his mobile on a city centre bus that detectives were able to establish he had been exchanging pictures and videos.
A search of the 50-year-old’s nearby home on Clayton Road led to the discovery of 14 phones. Forensic analysis of the handsets revealed Fraser was just one member of a vile web of paedophiles across the UK.
David Walton was among those caught by the probe. He had a long history of making and distributing indecent images and in 2005 had tried to set-up a global child sex film-making operation.
Using an internet cafe on the West Road, Newcastle, he established bank accounts in the Far East and claimed to have customers lined up across Asia. He was recalled to prison, having been jailed in 1995 for assaulting a youngster, in 2001 for possessing indecent photographs of children and again, for five years, in 2002, for downloading sick images.
It was while on licence for the 2005 sentence that Walton was caught by Operation Cammell, having sent pictures to Fraser and others.
Lost phone led to paedophile David Walton being jailed
A PAEDOPHILE is behind bars after a phone left on a bus led police to a nationwide child porn ring.
The chance find was made by a member of the public and when the handset was passed to the driver, he was sickened to find indecent images of youngsters on it.
Further analysis of the phone revealed links between its owner and convicted paedophile David Walton, whose details were saved under the alias “Katy”.
And when his home, on Rawling Road, Gateshead, was raided, two more mobiles containing scores of vile images were discovered.
Walton, already on licence having been jailed for similar crimes at the time, had been distributing the pictures to a network of fellow perverts across the country in exchange for his phones being topped up with credit.
But now a judge has ruled the 48-year-old is so dangerous he should be locked up indefinitely after he was convicted of 23 child porn offences at Newcastle Crown Court.
It is the first major success for Northumbria Police’s Operation Cammell, which has seen more than 70 suspects in 10 force areas identified since the discovery of the phone in February. Walton was given a five-year jail term but the terms of his sentence mean he cannot be released until it is felt he is no longer a risk to the public.
Paul Simpson, prosecuting, said: “This was as a result of a mobile phone being found on a bus on February 5.
“A member of the public saw it and handed it in and thereafter when it was examined, images were found on it and further inquiries were made and a man, who will appear before this court at a later date, has been arrested in relation to that.
“It was discovered that this man, Walton, had links to the mobile phone.
“One of the links was a person going by the name of ‘Katy’ who was stored in the phone under a telephone number and that was traced to David Walton.”
Mr Simpson told how Walton was identified as living on Rawling Road and was arrested outside his home on May 12. He added: “Two phones were found. One was in the living room being charged, while the other was in the drawer in the living room.
“During his detention, a memory card was found at Etal Lane police station, that had been broken up and concealed in a plastic cup.”
That phone was from the phone found in the drawer and despite its destruction, 59 indecent images were found to have been sent by Walton to other paedophiles.
Text messages had also been sent to and from other men involved in the network smashed by the operation.
At an earlier hearing at Newcastle Magistrates’ Court, Walton pleaded guilty to 11 charges of the possession of indecent images of children and 12 distribution offences.
Jailing him, Judge John Evans said it was clear previous prison terms had not prevented Walton from offending and that an indeterminate sentence was the only remaining option.
Det Chief Insp Paul Young, who led the investigation, said: “I am pleased with this sentence which means Walton will remain behind bars for a significant length of time. This investigation has taken an evil and dangerous man off the streets and prevented him from committing further offences.
”Hopefully this will serve as a warning to others that Northumbria Police will take decisive action to bring people like this to justice.”
NET PERVERT JAILED
David Walton was already on bail for possession of child pornography when he started targeting youngsters between 13 and 15 in onlinechatrooms and urging them to send him their pictures.
Chester-le-Street magistrates heard yesterday that Walton, 39, had gone into The Internet Caf in Vine Place, Sunderland, last December.
Ian Walker, prosecuting, said “During the computer conversation, he was asking the girls to send him photos and saying he would send photos in return.”
The caf manager checked the machine after Walton left and found its internet records had been erased.
Walton returned in early January, when he was seen to be scanning and sending pornographic pictures. He was asked to leave by the owner, who was able to stop him deleting the computers records. Police found pornographic pictures of children on the machine.
Walton, of no fixed abode, admitted 21 charges of possessing, sending and receiving pornographic images.
The court heard the first set of offences came to light when Walton was working for an engineering firm in Blaydon. A colleague discovered he had used a computer to access child pornography.
Police raided Waltons home in Rowlands Gill where a computer held more obscene images.
“These photos were of children of a young age ranging, it is estimated, from four or five years to early teens,” said Mr Walker. “They were of a sexually explicit nature.”
Walton was bailed and fled to Thailand. He was charged on his return and was staying at a bed-and-breakfast in Shotley Bridge when the second set of offences occurred.
Staff at Consett Library discovered an internet machine had been used to access child porn and police raided Waltons room, recovering computer disks containing downloaded images.
Walton had admitted receiving the images. He claimed to have been unaware they included pictures of children, but police found disks labelled “under nine years” and “Under 12 years”.
At one stage, Walton had used equipment at the library to print pornographic material.
It was while on bail for the Consett offences that Walton committed his offences in Sunderland.
Giles Hunter, for Walton, said he was a man who had lost everything as a result of his offending and realised he needed to address his obsession.
He said: “It is a bit like smoking. We have a bright, intelligent man who is a model member of the community, apart from his obsession.
“He is intelligent enough to realise that everything he has undergone, everything he has put his family through, cannot go on.”
Walton was jailed for a year, and ordered to spend two years on licence after release. He will be on the sex offenders register for ten years.