July 2007

Judge lets off paedophile

A JUDGE let a paedophile walk free after asking the parents of his seven-year-old victim to “understand” the attacker.

Judge John Walford’s decision outraged the mum and dad — and was blasted as “mad” by children’s groups last night.

And now the Attorney General is set to look at whether the sentence was unduly lenient – and could refer the case to the Court of Appeal.

Pervert Anthony Lindus, 27, carried out two sex attacks on the little girl, a distant relative.

She was left “badly affected, anxious and emotional,” Teesside Crown Court heard.

But Judge Walford described Lindus as “vulnerable” and declared that his problems would increase if he was sent to prison.

He gave him a suspended 12-month jail sentence.

And referring to the girl and her family as he spoke to Lindus, he said: “I just hope they will find it within themselves to understand your limitations and accept my conclusion that a custody setting might be in fact even more likely to produce in you a problem in the future than if you were treated within the setting of the community.”

But last night the child’s parents told how she was now terrified to go outside.

Her distraught mother, aged 24, said: “This is not justice, he should have gone to jail.”

The girl’s 41-year-old stepfather said: “The judge got it badly wrong. Any parent would understand our bitter anger and disappointment.

“Surely our little girl is the one who was vulnerable. This man exploited that and should be behind bars, not a free man.” The court heard the parents left the child and her two younger sisters with Lindus, who they trusted, while they went out to bingo.

He was found in the girl’s bedroom when the stepdad returned early. She later revealed she was also attacked 18 months before.

Lindus, of Darlington, Co Durham, admitted two counts of indecent assault.

report on him said he was “immature” and had never had a sexual relationship. Judge Walford said he was guilty of a serious breach of trust but had no previous form.

Nikki Kerr, of children’s charity Kidscape, said: “The judge acknowledged it was serious, then let him walk out. This man is a danger and was aware of what he did because he attacked her twice. The parents must be shocked the judge seems more concerned about him than their daughter.”

A Barnardo’s spokeswoman said: “The judge is wrong in asking the parents to understand his reasons for not jailing this man.

“Why should they be expected to understand?”

Judge Walford, 58, is no stranger to controversy.

Last year he deferred sentence on a serial thief so the crook could watch his favourite football team, Hartlepool, in the League One promotion playoff.

But Lord Goldsmith is set to review his decision not to jail Lindus.

A spokeswoman for the Attorney General said: “He will look at all the evidence that was put before the court

“If he decides that the sentence was below reasonable expectations he can refer the case to the Court of Appeal.”