Sex offender case judge frustrated
A judge has hit out at sentencing guidelines which he said stopped him from jailing a children's entertainer for a string of internet sex offences against four schoolboys.
Judge Peter Moss said the maximum prison sentence he could have imposed on Jason Gaunt would have been around the two-year mark. Instead, he was forced to hand down a community order allowing the 22-year-old to walk from court.
Condemning the legal framework which restricted him from imposing a tougher penalty, he said: "It is with considerable reluctance that I find myself in a position where I would normally impose a custodial sentence".
Judge Moss, sitting at Guildford Crown Court, acknowledged that Gaunt had already served 121 days in custody. Any prison sentence imposed would have been further reduced because of his guilty pleas. "I am effectively, by statute, by Parliament, deprived from passing a sentence that I know many outside this court would say you richly deserve," he told the defendant.
This came after a pre-sentencing report revealed that Gaunt, who has an IQ of 130, just a point away from what is described as "very superior" intelligence, was a "manipulative" character who posed a "significant risk of serious harm".
Earlier, the court was told how Gaunt had sought employment at two holiday camps where he could prey on "impressionable" young boys. He then used social networking websites to groom the children he had met, one of whom was only 11 at the time.
Once online, he would indulge in sexually explicit webchats with the boys, perform sexual acts in front of them using his webcam and encourage them to do the same.
But Gaunt, of Leander Close, Walsall, West Midlands, was snared after a concerned mother contacted police and officers from Surrey Police's paedophile online investigation team launched an intelligence-led operation.
Gaunt, a prison officer's son, later admitted 19 charges involving four boys under the age of 16. He showed no emotion as he was handed a three-year community rehabilitation order.
Gaunt worked as a children's entertainer at Kessingland Beach Park Resort in Lowestoft, Suffolk in 2007 and 2008 and at Seawick Holiday Park in Clacton-on-Sea in 2009.