A CHURCH minister who had indecent images of children on his computer has been spared an immediate jail sentence – because of his “exemplary conduct” with youngsters.
District Judge Christina Harrison said she could suspend the sentence on The Rev Kenneth Mankin after the prosecution offered no evidence he has behaved anything other than “entirely properly” in his dealings with children in the church, Scouts and Boys’ Brigade.
She said: “I also note the images found on his computer were largely of boys in their mid-teens, not young children.
“It also appears his interest in these images is fairly recent, dating back to last year. All of these factors I regard as mitigation and they enable me to suspend the appropriate prison sentence.”
Mankin, 74, of Richmond Road, Newton Hall, Durham City, is a retired Methodist minister who has held several offices in the church, including circuit superintendent in County Durham.
Peterlee Magistrates’ Court heard police raided his home after a tip-off.
“Various items were seized,” said prosecutor John Garside.
“Contained on the computer hard drive were 15 images later classed as indecent. Six were at the least serious level one, four were at level two, and five at level four, which is one category down from the most serious.” Mankin admitted seven charges of making indecent images of children. He was of previous good character.
Michelle Gallagher, defending, handed in references on Mankin’s behalf and urged the court to follow the suggestion in the pre-sentence report of a community-based sentence.
Judge Harrison sentenced Mankin to 18 weeks in prison, suspended for two years.
Mankin must take part in a sex offender treatment programme for two years, and register as a sex offender for seven years.
He was made the subject of a five-year sexual offences prevention order banning him from working with children.
Judge Harrison said the order applied to any work with children, either paid or unpaid. Mankin was ordered to pay £85 costs.