The judge let father-of-two caught with nearly 2,000 indecent images of children to go after telling him ‘you are not a paedophile’
- Christopher Gilland admitted downloading 1,834 obscene photos of children
- Police also found 34 videos including extreme pornography involving animals
- Judge Holt caused outrage for saying Gilland is a voyeur not a paedophile
- Father-of-two Gilland was given just a two-year community sentence
- Children’s charity Kidscape has questioned the message his sentence gives to other internet sex offenders and say it doesn’t reflect severity of the crime
A judge has caused outrage after he told a man who downloaded nearly 2,000 child porn images that he was not a paedophile.
Judge John Holt made the comment while hearing the case of Chris Gilland, 34, whose vile collection showed children as young as two.
The US citizen, who is married with two young girls, faced up to three years behind bars for the offences.
But after reading a pre-sentence report, which described Gilland as a ‘voyeur’ rather than a paedophile, Judge Holt let him walk free with a two-year community order. He told the defendant: ‘I am quite satisfied that you are not a paedophile.’
Anger: Judge John Holt (pictured) has outraged children’s charities after telling Christopher Gilland (left) – who admitted possessing almost 2,000 indecent images of children – that he is not a paedophile
Child abuse charities attacked the judge’s decision as ‘dangerous’. Peter Saunders, of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood, said: ‘That’s a wonderful message to send to society – that someone who pays to watch children being abused is given a rap on the knuckles and told they are not a danger to children.
‘This judge has given a very inappropriate, misguided and quite alarming sentence.’
John Brown, of the NSPCC, said: ‘Anyone who downloads indecent images of children should be considered capable of posing a risk, and a custodial sentence is usually an appropriate one.’
And Claude Knight, of child safety campaigners Kidscape, said: ‘The sheer number of images downloaded would certainly lead one to conclude predatory tendencies exist.’
Gilland is understood to be a former corporal in the US Marines who was working in the commissary at RAF Lakenheath, where the US Air Force’s 48th Fighter Wing is based.
Prosecutor Russell Butcher told Ipswich Crown Court that police raided Gilland’s home in the town on October 25 last year. They seized computers and storage devices that had 1,835 indecent images and 34 videos. Some scenes involved animals.
Gilland admitted six offences of possessing indecent images of children, one of possession of a prohibited image of a child and two of possessing extreme pornography at Ipswich Crown Court (pictured)
Gilland claimed he had downloaded the child porn by accident while viewing adult images, and planned to delete them.
But in court he admitted six charges of possessing indecent images of children, one of possessing a prohibited image of a child, and two of possessing extreme pornography. Defence counsel Hugh Rowland said his client had no previous convictions and most of the images were at the lowest level of seriousness.
Under the community order, Gilland will be supervised by the probation service for two years and have to take part in an Internet Sex Offenders Programme.
His wife, Robin, a dental assistant with the US Air Force, attended the sentencing on Wednesday and the court heard she was standing by him.
There was no answer at the couple’s home last night. A spokesman for the 48th Fighter Wing yesterday said Gilland no longer worked at the base and had been ‘barred from the installation’.
Judge Holt, 67, who has been a circuit judge since 1998, was criticised in 2006 for handing a two-year jail term to Zimbabwe-born Isaac Mutubila, 29, who groomed and then raped a 12-year-old girl. He could have been sentenced to life but the judge claimed the sentence was ‘significant’.