A double-amputee who sexually assaulted a ten-year-old boy more than 25 years ago has escaped being jailed ‘as an act of mercy’ because of his serious health problems.
Pensioner Michael White had pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to six charges of indecently assaulting the boy and one of attempting to have intercourse with him.
White (72) of Lindley Road, Stoke, Coventry, was given a two-year prison sentence suspended for 18 months and ordered to register as a sex offender for ten years.
Prosecutor Lynette McClement said that in the mid-80s White lived in the same area of Coventry as his young victim, who knew his son of a similar age.
When White first abused him by putting his hand down the boy’s trousers while also performing a sex act on himself, the boy, who was just nine, did not really understand what was going on.
Other similar incidents followed, as well as occasions when he was ten when White performed oral sex on him – and one occasion when White tried to have intercourse with him, although there was no actual penetration.
The abuse stopped after the boy went to secondary school and began sex education lessons, which made him realise just what had been happening.
Although he avoided White after that, he did not say anything to anyone at the time and tried to put it out of his mind.
It was only after he bumped into White’s son in 2014 that it all came back and he began to feel overwhelmed, so he went to the police.
When he was arrested White made a number of admissions, added Miss McClement.
After reading a report on White, now a double-amputee who sat in the dock in a wheelchair, Judge Richard Griffith-Jones commented: “He is obviously very infirm and mentally unstable. He’s very ill and very disabled.”
Martin Liddiard, defending, said prisons had limited capacity to deal with people who were so disabled, which mean that if he was jailed White, who was heavily reliant on his wife, might be moved to a different part of the country.
The Judge responded: “I cannot take into account prison capacity, but his condition means a custodial sentence would be much more difficult for him than for an able-bodied person.”
Sentencing White, Judge Griffith-Jones told him: “These matters go back many years, but they are serious matters. Children must be protected from sexual predators. You satisfied yourself at this boy’s expense.
“If you were charged with such offences today it would be a starting point of five years custody, with a range of three to eight before you received credit for your pleas.
“It would be a sentence of two years, and I have considered whether it should be served or suspended.
“People who abuse children must go to prison, and it is appropriate to chase culprits into their old age.
“But you are seriously ill, and I have heard what difficulties you would suffer in custody. You are marooned in your home and wheelchair-bound. As an act of mercy, I intend to suspend the sentence.”