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Paedophile may be spared jail due to dementia
1:10pm Saturday 1st September 2012 in Somerset
A SERIAL paedophile who may escape without punishment could potentially still pose a risk to the public, a sexual abuse victims’ charity has warned.
A judge has voiced frustration that Gerald Longman, 78, could get off with an absolute discharge despite a string of attacks on girls dating back years.
Longman was deemed unfit to stand trial after a doctor said he had dementia, but a jury decided he had committed four indecent assaults and two rapes, and incited a girl under 14 to carry out an indecent act in the Taunton area.
Judge Graham Hume Jones told Taunton Crown Court on Tuesday that as things stood he was obliged to hand Longman an absolute discharge, which attracts no penalty.
He demanded another probation report, ordering the officer to speak to Longman’s doctor with a view to imposing a supervision order with strict conditions.
The judge, who questioned whether or not Longman, whose current address is Manor Fields, Bridport, “was really unfit for trial”, adjourned the case until September 19 at the latest and ordered him to sign the Sex Offenders’ Register.
Afterwards, Fay Maxted, Survivors Trust chief executive, said public safety was paramount in such cases.
She said: “The management of sex offenders who develop dementia is difficult, and made more so by the fact that offending behaviour may escalate due to lowered inhibitions and social awareness.
“Up to 17% of people with dementia will develop sexually inappropriate behaviour anyway. It’s known that sex offenders continue to pose a credible threat into late life.
“This means there’s an ongoing risk to the public, carers, family members and other residents in a residential setting.
“Any judgment must, therefore, prioritise safety.”