He should be in jail: MP among four to write to government over sex offender's sentence (From Bournemouth Echo)
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He should be in jail: MP among four to write to government over sex offender Robert Ian Finlay's sentence
8:42am Tuesday 20th August 2013 in News
A BOURNEMOUTH MP is among four outraged people who have referred the case of sex offender council official Ian Finlay to the Attorney General.
Finlay was only handed a suspended sentence on Friday, despite admitting that he had downloaded 600 indecent images of children.
Judge Samuel Wiggs said: “There is no public interest in sending you immediately to prison.”
The decision sparked anger amongst childrens’ charities and campaign groups.
Now Bournemouth East MP, Tobias Ellwood has written to the government’s top law officer, amid concerns over the case.
Click the image for a full size version of the letter
He told the Daily Echo: “I share the huge concern and the general outrage of charities and the wider public about this and will seek clarification from Dominic Grieve about this matter.”
He added: “There are major questions to answer in my view.
“This man is clearly guilty and the issue is compounded by the public position of trust and responsibility he enjoyed.”
Only last month, the Attorney General referred the case of BBC presenter Stuart Hall back to the Court of Appeal after complaints his sentence was too lenient.
Finlay, 53, of Barnes Crescent, East Howe, pleaded guilty to 17 offences committed between January 1, 2009, and January 10 this year. A total of 601 images were found on his home computer, including eight in the most serious category five.
Prosecutor Nicholas Robinson said that aggravating features of the case were that Finlay was Bournemouth Borough Council’s lead officer for online safety for children and a governor at Bourne Academy.
He was sacked when the offences came to light.
Bournemouth’s executive director for children and adults, Jane Portman, said she was “surprised” at the sentence.
Mr Ellwood added: “If we are serious about protecting the most vulnerable in society from this kind of vile abuse, then the law needs to work and be seen to work.
“That just does not appear to be have been the case here.”
A spokesman for the Attorney General’s office said: “Several people have referred this case to us; on Friday we had three complaints and the MP’s letter hadn’t been received by then.
“It is being examined as part of the Unduly Lenient Sentence Scheme which only applies to the most serious offences.
“Our lawyers have 28 days to consider documentation provided by the Crown Prosecution Service before making a decision on whether to refer the case to the Court of Appeal.”
FINLAY’S neighbours in East Howe said they were disappointed he would not be serving time for his crimes.
Mark Hughes, 30, said he believed Finlay should not be allowed to continue living in the area.
“There are lots of families around here, lots of children, and I don’t think he should be living here,” the father-of-three said.
“He should have been put away for having 600 images of children, and we don’t know how much more there may be to it. My partner wants us to move away.”
Another neighbour, 36-year-old Tandee Walden, said Finlay appeared to be away from home on Sunday, and she had heard he was moving out.
Ms Walden, who has a young daughter, said: “He is a quiet neighbour, he doesn’t get many visitors.
“I have never felt worried for my daughter and I don’t think he would be a danger. But someone has been abused for those kind of images to be made and I’m surprised he didn’t get a custodial sentence. You just don’t know your neighbours these days.”
Stuart Hall, 83, above, the former BBC broadcaster was sentenced to 15 months for a series of historic sex assault allegations earlier this year.
But there was widespread anger at the perceived leniency. Attorney General Dominic Grieve QC referred the matter back to the Court of Appeal and the sentenced was increased to 30 months.
The court of appeal extended Hall’s 15-month jail term after ruling that his original sentence was inadequate and did not match his crimes.
The case was referred to the court by the attorney general, Dominic Grieve, left, who argued that Hall’s sentence was unduly lenient as it failed to reflect the gravity of his offending and public concern about such crimes.
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