Sunderland sex offender walks free after judge slams 'shocking' delay of nearly FOUR YEARS in bringing case to court

A sex offender has walked free after a "shocking" delay of almost four years to get the case to court - which has been slammed by a judge.

Wednesday, 19th February 2020, 6:13 pm
Updated Thursday, 20th February 2020, 10:42 am

A sex offender has walked free after a "shocking" delay of almost four years to get the case to court - which has been slammed by a judge.

Mark Davison confessed he had incited a girl to engage in sexual activity, by asking her for topless photographs, when he was interviewed by the police in June 2016.

The now 30-year-old, who had posed as a teenager during an online "fantasy" relationship that started in early 2016, was released by police "under investigation" and did not appear at crown court charged with the offence until December 2019.

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Mark Davison.

During his sentence hearing at Newcastle Crown Court, Judge Amanda Rippon said length of time involved in the prosecution process was "utterly appalling" and branded it the "most shocking delay."

Davison, of Langdale Road, Sunderland, who pleaded guilty to causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, was given a two year jail term, suspended for two years, with programme and rehabilitation requirements.

He must sign the sex offenders register and abide by a sexual harm prevention order for ten years.

Judge Rippon said were it not for the delay in the case, the sentence would have been immediate imprisonment.

The judge told Davison, who has psychological problems and a low IQ: "The offence took place four years ago, you were first interviewed within six months.

"You made full admissions in interview.

"You were plainly released under investigation, as many defendants now are and that can be the only explanation for your first hearing at this court being in December 2019.

"I have seen cases of delay but cannot bring one to mind where the delay has been quite so extensive in a case where really all the boxes were ticked for it to be before the court more quickly.

"But for the delay in this case, I would not be able to find myself able to get to a sentence that I could have suspended.

"But I have concluded, because of the significant delay and the fact this has had an impact on you, you have committed no further offences and all I have already said, I don't fail to emphasise or recognise the considerable impact your offence had on the complainant and will continue to do so, and the seriousness of the offence itself, which deserves an immediate prison sentence,

I have had to conclude I must suspend the inevitable prison sentence."

Judge Rippon said Davison "never met her, never tried to" and "never would have" due to his social inadequacies.

The court heard Davison had been "explicitly" told the girl's age during their online conversations but he still said they were "boyfriend and girlfriend" asked her for topless photographs.

Prosecutor David Comb said the girl was reluctant to trust Davison at first but he "set about building up a fictional relationship which was characterised by a high degree of attachment, manipulation and emotional control."

Mr Comb added: "He told her he loved her, spoke to her about difficulties she was experiencing at home with her parents and caused her to entertain thoughts of life away from that home, spent with him."

The court heard the girl eventually relented and sent pictures of herself.

Mr Comb said the victim had believed she was in a "genuine relationship" with Davison, who said he wanted to get her pregnant and at the time had no insight into the fact she was being groomed.

She has said now, with hindsight, the experience has had an effect on her which has left her lacking confidence and "feeling scared of going around her every day life".

Jamie Adams, defending, said the delay in the case was a "disgrace" and has caused problems for not just Davison but his family.

Mr Adams added: "It has caused enormous suffering and distress."

Mr Adams said Davison gave up his job to help care for his autistic brother and has been in no trouble before or since the offence.