Wigan child abuser’s jail term slashed by five years

Martin Kelman
Martin Kelman

A convicted Wigan paedophile could be back on the streets within months after his jail time was more than halved.

Martin Kelman was sent to prison for eight years in February for sexually abusing a six-year-old boy.

But on taking his case to the Court of Appeal in London this week, two judges ruled that the original sentence was far too harsh and it was slashed to just three years.

His victim’s mother today said she was “absolutely devastated,” adding that it made the family wonder whether it had been worth their while putting the boy through the ordeal of making a claim and court case.

They are also considering their options for a counter-appeal.

Lord Justice Treacy and Mr Justice Lavender will publish their detailed judgement explaining why they upheld the appeal in several weeks’ time.

Kelman, 34, denied two charges when he stood trial at Manchester’s Minshull Street Crown Court: one of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and another of sexually assaulting a child under the age of 13, both in June 2014.

But a jury took four hours to find him guilty on both counts after a harrowing video interview with the boy recounting his abuse was played to the court.

Kelman, who hails from Wigan but latterly had lived in Polefield, Fulwood, Preston, was a friend of the young victim’s family and would stay over at their house.

The court heard he took advantage of their hospitality to subject the son to vile sexual ordeals behind their backs.

As well as the eight years he received, Kelman must also sign on the Sex Offenders’ Register for life and that still stands.

At the time of his sentencing, the boy’s mother branded him a “monster”.

She said: “It was an act of complete betrayal. He was a friend of the family and he attacked our son at both our house and my mother’s house.

“He went to work with my husband and used to stay over and it was then that he took advantage.

“Our son did not tell anything about what happened until a year afterwards. It just came out one day in conversation. I was horrified and immediately contacted the police.

“They arrested Kelman and he pleaded not guilty which made things worse and dragged everything out a lot longer.

“Our son was video interviewed but we were not allowed to be in court when it was played to the jury so, to this day, we cannot be sure of every detail.

“We weren’t allowed to speak to him afterwards and of course now we don’t want to drag it all up again for him now by quizzing him further.

“He is not great, but he’s OK. Only time will tell how it affects him in the longer term.

“He is nine now and while it had started to fade to the back of his mind to a certain extent, the trial brought it all back.

“What that monster did is unforgivable.”

This week she spoke to the Observer again, with her reaction to the ruling.

She said: “We are consulting a lawyer about the possibility of appealing against this ruling but we are not holding out much hope.

“We are absolutely devastated. The policewoman who handled the case for us said she had never seen such a big percentage reduction in sentence on appeal before in her entire career.

“It means that he could be out on the streets as soon as next June. It’s hardly a punishment at all. We had been thinking there was no risk from him for years and now it could be just months away. He knows where we live too.

“It is just not fair: to give an outcome and then take it away again is worse. We are appalled at the justice system.

“We are beginning to wish we had not bothered pressing forward with the prosecution in the first place. This is horrendous.”