Judges dismiss paedophile’s appeal

Top story
Top story

A WIGAN paedophile caged for trying to fix a sex session with a five-year-old girl can have no complaint about his jail term, top judges have ruled.

Anthony O’Neill, 57, repeatedly contacted a prostitute and asked her to arrange a young girl for his depraved sexual enjoyment - telling her “the younger the better” and “five (years old) would be nice”.

The twisted sex offender, of Gidlow Avenue, was jailed for 18 months at Liverpool Crown Court, in November, last year, after he was convicted of attempting to arrange or facilitate a child sex offence.

Yesterday, three of the country’s most senior judges at London’s Appeal Court rejected a sentence challenge by O’Neill, saying his jail term was “neither wrong in principle nor manifestly excessive”.

Judge Simon Tonking said O’Neill sent a series of text messages to a sex worker in October, 2012, asking her “if she could arrange a young girl to join them in sexual activity”.

He asked the woman if she had a daughter or if she knew anyone else who could provide a young child for the vile

proposal – telling her “the younger the better”.

Judge Tonking said O’Neill suggested the girl should be aged five to seven years old, adding: “Five would be nice”.

After his arrest, O’Neill admitted sending the messages but claimed it was “nothing more than fantasy” and that he never intended to carry out the “very serious” child sex offence. He was, however, disbelieved and found guilty by a jury.

The author of a pre-sentence report found that O’Neill presented a “high risk of harm to female children”.

But he still denies that he committed a criminal offence, the appeal judge explained.

O’Neill’s lawyers argued that the judge handed him a “manifestly excessive” jail term for what was a failed attempt.

But Judge Tonking said: “Whilst this court acknowledges this offence was an attempt, rather than the full offence, the full offence which O’Neill contemplated and, which, we find, he wished to commit, was an offence of sexual activity with a child that was very serious.”

The appeal judge, sitting with Lord Justice Davis and Mr Justice Jeremy Baker, concluded: “In the circumstances, we find that this was an offence which could not have resulted in anything less than a custodial sentence.

“We find that the length of sentence imposed by the judge was neither wrong in principle nor manifestly excessive. Accordingly we dismiss this appeal.”