May 2022

“Despicable” paedophile who recorded images of himself raping and abusing a baby has received a life sentence

A “despicable” paedophile who recorded images of himself raping and abusing a baby has received a life sentence for his deeply “depraved” crimes.

Gareth Andrew Davis, 43, of Ashridge Street, Runcorn, was arrested after the National Crime Agency (NCA) discovered that indecent photographs had been uploaded to a Google account in his name.

Cheryl Mottram, prosecuting at Chester Crown Court on Tuesday, said NCA investigators had suspicions Davis featured among the 512 child abuse images, and a warrant was executed at his home address.

He was arrested and his Samsung phone seized.

Davis gave “no comment” answers when questioned.

Enquiries established that some of the images were of Davis himself abusing a baby.

One photograph was identified as one Davis had secretly taken of a naked child at a beach in north Wales.

WhatsApp messages showed Davis had shared some of his sick stash with “a male in the North East” and had discussed abuse in a chat room

His depraved collection also featured about 600 pictures of him simulating sexual abuse with a child’s baby doll including with his “hand round the neck simulating strangulation”.

These did not form part of the charges against him but were later referred to as evidence of an additional “violent” risk posed by paedophile Davis.

He pleaded guilty at his plea hearing at Chester Crown Court on December 3 last year to rape of a child under 13, sexual assault by penetration of a child under 13, and three counts of making indecent images: 36 of the most heinous type Category A, 382 Category B and 94 Category C.

Five further counts were ordered to lie on file.

Ms Mottram read harrowing victim personal statements submitted by the rape victim’s mother and the beach image victim’s mother.

Davis had no previous convictions but Judge Steven Everett, Recorder of Chester, said this could not be used as mitigation for Davis as he had used his supposed “good character” as means to have access to commit abuse.

During discussions over types of sentence, Judge Everett compared the case with that of former Lostprophets rock musician Ian Watkins who was convicted of abuse in 2014 and given a 35-year sentence, comprising 29 years in prison plus six on extended licence.

Judge Everett said Davis’s “troubling” imagery of himself simulating strangulation meant “alarm bells are truly ringing”.

He told the court: “They cause me real concern, not just of a sexual nature, a sexual nature is bad enough, but real concern that he’s a double danger in that regard.”

He opted not to impose a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) because of the “long time” Davis would inevitably serve in prison and on life licence.

The judge said psychiatric and probation reports found Davis had no mental illness as medically defined.

Judge Everett dismissed that as “arrant nonsense” because the crimes began before the pandemic.

The judge said a life sentence was “wholly inevitable”.

Judge Everett passed a life sentence, comprising a 27-year prison term with life licence – meaning Davis can be recalled to prison if he breaches his release conditions.

Sentencing Davis, he said: “What you’ve pleaded guilty to is the most serious case I’ve had to deal with concerning serious sexual offences.

“It’s the most serious case I’ve dealt with in 40 years or more as a solicitor, barrister and then judge.

“I’ve not come across a case as serious as this.

“It’s of the extremest seriousness.

“It’s depraved, disgusting, despicable.

“I could go on.

“It’s difficult in fact to describe just how bad this case is and what a terrible effect it’s had on so many people.”

He added: “You got caught fortunately because I’ve no doubt had you not been caught you would have continued to be an extreme danger to children, (a victim) and others.

“You should understand that some of the matters you put forward to the psychiatrist and probation officer, I utterly reject.”

Commenting on Davis’s potential for violence, Judge Everett said: “You harboured those terrible views towards young children and I’m satisfied you harbour not just views of a sexual nature but of an extremely violent nature including murder.

“I’m quite satisfied you harbour those views.

“These views came out in an awful way.”