Seven years bad luck for abuse victims in the West Country
Astonishing decision to promote controversial ‘paedophile-soft’ Judge
On 2nd August 2012, Judge Francis Gilbert QC (left) was appointed resident judge at Exeter. He has a long – and to me, inexplicable – history in the West Country of handing out light sentences to, giving bail to, and overturning verdicts against, paedophiles – primarily in Plymouth. The Slog lays out this judge’s history of odd decisions over the last seven years.
On 13th July 2011, six footballers imprisoned for raping 12 year old girls were released, after a ruling that their 2-year sentences were “excessive”. The six men all admitted various charges of rape against two 12 year old girls in a park late at night. Mr Judge Francis Gilbert QC ruled that being imprisoned was inappropriate as it was a ‘difficult’ case. The men were released, their sentences cut to one year…and suspended.
Just 16 days later, Gilbert was at it again. Try to absorb this logic: Anthony Milsom – described by the trial judge as a “manipulative and predatory” sex offender, was jailed indefinitely for public protection. Milsom admitted a series of offences dating back to the early 1990s including 16 counts of possessing indecent images of children, 21 charges of making indecent images, and five charges of indecent assault on a little girl when she was aged between four and eight.
At the original trial, the court also heard that Milsom had newspaper cuttings relating to high-profile child murder inquiries including Milly Dowler, Sophie Hook, Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, as well as the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.
His sentence was effectively life…but appeal court Judges (of whom one was Francis Gilbert QC) cut it to three and a half years.
Two years earlier, Gilbert gave serious paedophile downloader John Squance a seven-month jail sentence for downloading 6,919 paedoporn images. This staggeringly light sentence is hard to understand, especially given that Squance had already failed to turn up for the first attempt at a hearing. But Mr Gilbert’s leniency towards paedophiles appears to be potentially infinite.
In November 2007, Anthony Davies also found himself lucky enough to be before Judge Gilbert. He’d broken a Sexual Offences Prevention Order by persuading four underage children to go with him on a fishing trip without their parents’ knowledge. Davies acquired the SOPO by being caught with 1,200 indecent images of children. But despite warnings from experts about Davies representing a danger to children, the judge eschewed the route available to him of banging the paedophile up for five years, and chose instead to let him get help. “Being a danger to children is not an offence” Gilbert mysteriously concluded.
In April 2007, Justice Francis Gilbert was that man refusing to jail the Plymouth paedo-girlies who forced two toddlers to fight for the cameras.
And in 2005, he granted the request of the two paedophile defendants Palmer & Tapper to take a holiday during their trial. The reason for a holiday, they told Francis Gilbert, was stress. The couple, who ran a landlord and letting agency, assaulted their young victims after finding them homes when they came out of social services care. The two chums legged it to Turkey (nice place if you’re into little boys). Palmer was finally caught after an Interpol operation in late 2009, but by 2011 Tapper was still at large. I’ve lost track of him…as indeed has Plod.
While I await the usual bleating blather about rumour and innuendo, let me make it clear that in this instance, I am doing nothing beyond laying before an ever-more mystified public whether a Judge presiding over a town with a known paedophile issue (stretching from nursery school scandals to gagging orders on care home abuse cases) feels at ease, in the light of recent events, with these, his past ‘judgements’ about paedophilia as a crime.
However, in a spirit of commonsense and decency, I would also like to ask anyone to give me a straight answer to these questions:
1. Why should any former child abuse victim in the Care Home system have any faith at all in a judiciary handing out sentences like these?
2. Why has none of Justice Gilbert’s eccentric behaviour in these instances been the subject of an investigation?
3. Could it be that those in positions of power in Plymouth, and the Devon & Cornwall constabulary, are not taking the blight on their patch seriously enough?
There have been other judges based in Exeter – and Bristol – in the past. In cases relating to those, I can neither rume nor innuend, as to even mention the subject matter would get me banged up. If you think it’s only Family Courts that are secret, then think again.
I’m sure that Justice Francis Gilbert’s only handicap in being a judge is that, like many people, he is very bright and liberal, but something of a stranger to the concept of common sense and life on the streets in 2012. However, with every week that passes it is becoming increasingly clear to British citizens who are vaguely awake, and in possession of a conscience, that the Establishment should be condemned: not only for its recurrent sociopathic actions, but also because it is so riddled with rotten and dead wood, one day soon it will fall down and thus represent a danger to innocent passers by.
Here is the Readers’ Digest support for that contention: McAlpine bullying the media, Cameron’s relationship with Newscorp, Murdoch’s obvious perjury in front of the Leveson Enquiry, Labour’s continuing cover-up of local government sex abuse, manipulation of the gold price, manipulation of the Libor rate, Bob Diamond perjuring himself before the Treasury Select Committee, Lord Green claiming zero knowledge of money-laundering, Jeremy Hunt lying to the House of Commons, the continuing lack of progress on Hackgate criminality, 18,000 caes of vile paedophilia in the care system – with just 1,600 convictions, the devious softening-up of NHS Trusts for private takeover, the fact that over 60% of all Commons visitors are commercial lobbyists, raiding the future pensions of savers, spending taxpayers’ money to bail out banker criminality, Boris Johnson inviting Murdoch to the Olympics, the Treasury colluding in fraud at RBS, the Met Police dining with Newscorp during a serious crime investigation, blind politically correct eyes turned away from paedophiles in Rotherham, glib spin on the situation inside Syria, Brown’s fraud over the PFI fiasco, Blair perverting the course of justice in relation to the BaE scandal, Campbell sexing up the Iraq dossier, and Lord Mandelson becoming the Chief Ethics Officer at Lazard’s Bank, and perhaps above all, the UK media’s unique ability to report what isn’t happening.
Rumour and innuendo? Get a life. Get a moral compass.
Can I just make it absolutely clear that the educationalist Francis Gilbert is NOT the subject of this article