Andrew Picard: Did he get a soft sentence for being an Etonian?

Andrew Picard is 18. He is an old Etonian.

Last Friday he received a sentence of 10 months imprisonment suspended for 18 months. The sentence has been the subject of a great deal of criticism. A Change.org petition has been set up asking the Attorney-General to “review” the sentence. It currently has well-over 10,000 signatures.

The signatories to the petition have been disappointed. The Attorney-General has announced that he cannot refer this sentence to the Court of Appeal. That power exists only for “indictable only” offences (Mr Picard’s were triable “either way”), or for certain other specific offences, which do not include those to which he pleaded guilty.

Many online commentators have noted the fact that Mr Picard is an old Etonian, and that his father is a prominent American lawyer. Many have suggested that he has been treated leniently for these reasons.

Are they fair criticisms of Judge Ross? Did he pass an unduly lenient sentence? Are there any grounds for thinking that Mr Picard was treated more leniently because he was an Etonian?

The Facts

Whilst he was still at school, and 17 years old, Picard made contact with somebody he thought was another teenager in an internet chat room. Unknown to him the man was an undercover police officer.

Picard: Did he get off lightly?
Picard: Did he get off lightly?

Picard messaged the undercover officer asking:

Do you want to see pics of boys and girls your age, nude?”

Picard said that he had hundreds of videos. He added the officer on Skype and shared indecent images of a boy aged ten and girls aged eight and fourteen.

The police were able to trace the IP address to Picard’s computer at Eton.

According to the Daily Mail report:

Picard admitted one count of possessing indecent pictures of children, one count of making indecent pictures of children and eight counts of distributing indecent photos or recordings of a child.

They also discovered chat logs from the chatrooms where Picard boasted about the ‘quality’ of his videos and asked users who claimed to be as young as 14 to exchange naked shots of themselves for indecent videos he would provide.

Exactly how many of these images were found is not entirely clear. According to the Mail:

Detectives found 1,185 indecent images and videos on his computer and on hard-drives seized from his school dormitory.”

However the same report also talks about “more than 2,000” such images:

Andrew Picard, from Westminster, London, was found with more than 2,000 pornographic images of children on his computer at the prestigious school near Windsor, Berkshire.

At an earlier hearing it was reported that he was charged with possession of over 2000 images, broken down as follows:

    • 622 category A images;

    • 1,062 category B images; and

    • 725 category C images.

It may be that not all of these images featured in the final plea, but that is my speculation.

Indecent images of children are categorised in the statutory Sentencing Guidelines.

Category A: Penetrative sexual activity, sexual activity with an animal or sadism;

Category B: Non-penetrative sexual activity;

Category C: Other indecent images not falling within A or B.

Whether it was 1,185 or over 2,000 images perhaps does not make very much difference. What is more important is that some of them were almost indescribably vile, including a picture of a 2 year old girl being raped by a dog.

According to Judge Peter Ross, who passed the sentence, other images were so appalling that he could not bring himself to describe them. No doubt many, and I would guess most, of these images were downloaded from the internet. However, in some cases Picard appears to have been far more proactive, by persuading teenage children to make indecent images of themselves in exchange for indecent videos that he would then supply to them. One such video – I think this was shared with the undercover officer – involved a boy aged about ten, and girls aged 8 and 14.

Although it is possible to commit the offence (under S.1 of the Protection of Children Act 1978) of “making” an indecent photograph of a child by downloading an image from the internet, for sentencing purposes an important issue is whether the defendant has “produced” an image “at source”. The guidelines say:

Making an image by simple downloading should be treated as possession for the purposes of sentencing.”

The thrust of Mr Picard’s mitigation was that he had pleaded guilty and sought psychiatric help. It was argued by his barrister, Sallie Bennet-Jenkins QC, that an immediate custodial sentence would undo all the good work that had been done by the psychiatrists and counsellors.

As well as suspending the sentence, Judge Ross imposed a Mental Health Treatment Requirement, and a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (although the terms of the Order do not seem to have been reported).

There is not necessarily a “right” sentence for any crime. Some people are naturally more punitive than others. In order to ensure a degree of consistency in sentencing Parliament has created the Sentencing Council which is charged with issuing Sentencing Guidelines for a wide range of offences. It has issued a definitive Sentencing Guideline for sexual offences. The guideline covers the whole range of sexual offences from child rape to exposure, and it includes a section on sentences for offences related to indecent images of children.

It needs to be stressed that although these are guidelines not absolute rules, judges cannot ignore them. S.125 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 provides:

Every court—

(a) must, in sentencing an offender, follow any sentencing guidelines which are relevant to the offender’s case, and

(b) must, in exercising any other function relating to the sentencing of offenders, follow any sentencing guidelines which are relevant to the exercise of the function,

unless the court is satisfied that it would be contrary to the interests of justice to do so.

In other words there is a strong presumption that judges should follow the guidelines unless there is good reason not to do so.

Was the sentence unduly lenient?

Based only on the press reports it is impossible to be sure one way or the other. The reports do not distinguish clearly between which images were respectively “made”, “distributed” or “possessed”, a crucial distinction for sentencing purposes.

It is not clear, for example, whether the charges of “making” indecent photographs related to the Category A images. It seems probably not, because the prosecution were reported as saying:

it was a feature of Picard’s offending that he would send images in return for the user to strip, showing him their ‘underarm or groin.”

Such images would be Category C. Under the Sentencing Guidelines “producing” Category C images has a starting point of 18 months custody, with a sentencing range of 1 – 3 years.

What about the 8 charges of distribution?

Again, it is not clear whether he distributed any Category A or B images. The Guidelines suggest a starting point of 1 year (range 26 weeks – 2 years) for distributing Category B images; or 3 years (range 2 – 5 years) for distributing Category A images.

Finally the possession charges. Plainly he did possess numerous Category A images. The Guidelines suggest a starting point sentence of 1 year’s custody, with a range of 26 weeks to 3 years.

There were undoubtedly several “aggravating features”: a comparatively large quantity of images, some of the children were exceptionally young, some were visibly distressed, the collection included moving images, and there was involvement in some sort of “network” for distributing images. All these would tend to indicate a sentence above the “starting point”.

On the other hand, there were also “mitigating features.” Mr Picard had no previous convictions, he was judged to be remorseful, and he had clearly taken steps to “address his offending behaviour” all of which are specific factors that the Guidelines require sentencing judges to take into account, and can tend to to indicate a sentence lower than the starting point.

Most important was the fact that Mr Picard, though aged 18 at the date of sentencing, was only 17 at the time that the offences were committed. In the 2015 case of Mark Antony Smith1 the Court of Appeal said that the “the proper approach to sentencing those who were under the age of 18 at the time of the offence, but since then have achieved the age of 18, [is to reduce] the sentence notionally to be imposed on an adult by one-third.”

Assuming the judge adopted this approach, and assuming that some of the distributing offences related to Category A images (which is not clear from the reports), the judge might have had a starting point of 3 years imprisonment. He would probably have discounted the normal one third of that to give credit for the guilty plea, making 2 years. He would then have been required to reduce that sentence by a further one third to take account of the fact that Mr Picard was only 17 at the time the offences were committed, reducing the sentence to 16 months.

If the “distributing” offences related to Category B images, the upper range of the Guideline suggests no more than a 2 year starting point, leading to a final sentence of no more than about 10½ months, very close to the 10 months in fact imposed.

If he was sentencing for possession of Category A images, although the starting point is 1 years imprisonment, the sentencing range goes up to 3 years. A 2 – 3 year starting point would again produce a final sentence in the range 10 – 16 months.

Having decided on the length of the custodial sentence.

Where there is a sufficient prospect of rehabilitation, a community order with a sex offender treatment programme requirement … can be a proper alternative to a short or moderate length custodial sentence.”.

In other words, judges are enjoined to consider a non-custodial sentence instead of a “short to moderate” custodial sentence.

Presumably Judge Ross considered whether to impose a non-custodial sentence, and decided that it would have been too lenient.

But having decided in favour of custody, and that it should be a sentence of less than 2 years, he then had to consider whether he should suspend it. Most judges, understandably, would be anxious not to send any 18 year old with no previous convictions to prison – or technically to a young offenders’ institution – especially if there were reason to believe that there was a “sufficient prospect of rehabilitation.”

The conditions in our prisons are shocking. Of course, imprisonment is meant to deter as well as to rehabilitate, but the idea that sitting in a prison cell for 20 or more hours a day, with no prospect of undertaking any meaningful work could produce a change for the better in anybody’s behaviour is at best highly optimistic; some would probably prefer the word deranged.

As far as we can tell from the reports Mr Picard’s sentence was in line with what one would have expected from a judge faithfully following the Sentencing Guidelines and the case law on the sentencing of young people.

Some commentators have queried why Mr Picard was not charged with an offence under S.10 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 of causing a child to engage in sexual activity. It is quite possible (depending on exactly what happened) that asking a child to strip for the camera would involve the commision of that offence. But it would have made very little to the final sentence. The maximum sentence when that offence is committed by a 17 year old is 5 years imprisonment, exactly half the maximum for making an indecent photograph of the same activity.

Registration

Judge Ross has also been criticised for not ordering that Mr Picard register on the “sex offenders’ register.” Again, such criticism is unfair. A judge can neither make nor decline to make such an order. The requirement to notify arises automatically, and irrespective of anything the judge says, if, and only if, a defendant qualifies under S.80 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

The law on who qualifies is contained in Schedule 3 paragraph 13 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003. A person convicted of an offence under S.1 of the Protection of Children Act is subject to the notification requirements only:

if …

(a) …

(b) the offender—

(i) was 18 or over, or

(ii) is sentenced in respect of the offence to imprisonment for a term of at least 12 months.

The “18 or over” requirement is a reference to the defendant’s age “at the time the indecent photographs were taken,” as paragraph 95 of the Schedule makes clear. Since he was 17 at that point, and his sentence was less than 12 months’ imprisonment he does not qualify for registration. No doubt some will complain that the judge ought to have passed a longer prison sentence in order to bring him within the notification regime, but that would have amounted to the tail wagging the dog. The Court of Appeal would have strongly disapproved of passing a longer sentence than the law demanded in order to bring Mr Picard within the notification requirements.

In any case, those who think the judge was going soft on Mr Picard need to ask themselves why, if that was the case, did he impose a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (breach of which carries a prison sentence of up to 5 years)? The law did not require him to impose it, he chose to do so. 

The terms of the order do not seem to have been reported, but such orders inevitably involve a significant interference with a person’s liberty, as well as preventing him becoming a “rehabilitated person” under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act.

An Etonian

Much of the comment has focused on the fact that Mr Picard was an old Etonian, implying – and quite often saying explicitly – that he received a lenient sentence for that reason. If someone is determined to believe – without any evidence – that an Etonian has been given a soft ride for that reason then it is probably impossible to shift that belief.

In fact the opposite is the case. Although there is no reason to suppose the court treated him any differently because of the school he once attended,  the press and social media undoubtedly have done so. Mr Picard’s case would barely have been noticed if he had been educated at an “ordinary” school.

More to the point, had he been charged before his 18th birthday it is very probable that the judge – any judge – would have made an order under S.45 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 banning the publication of any details which would be “likely to lead members of the public to identify him.” Such orders are routine in any case involving defendants under the age of 18. Specifically, the order would have prohibited any mention of:

(a) his name,

(b) his address,

(c) the identity of any school or other educational establishment attended by him,

(d) the identity of any place of work, and

(e) any still or moving picture of him.

Many of the internet warriors who have joined in the frenzy of anger over the case have commented that Mr Picard was charged in his mother’s name of “Picard” rather that of his father “Boeckman”. One of the internet’s nastiest anti-semites, Charles Frith, has even got in on the act suggesting that it was done in order to avoid publicising his father’s “Jewish name.” Mr Frith is adept at using practically any sex case to further his anti-semitic agenda.

Frith Picard JewishWhether there was an attempt to avoid publicity, or whether Mr Picard, like many people, switches between different names for different purposes I have no idea (any more than do many of those who criticise him). If it was some sort of ruse, it clearly hasn’t worked. But nobody seems to have considered that he was for legal purposes still a child when he committed the offence. There seems to be something rather odd about a law which would have ensured him anonymity had he been prosecuted at the time the offences were committed, but which has resulted in maximum publicity because the prosecution did not happen until he became an adult.


1[2015] EWCA Crim 722 per William Davis J.

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Author: Matthew

I have been a barrister for over 25 years, specialising in crime. You may also have come across some of my articles I have written on legal issues for The Times, Standpoint, Daily Telegraph or Criminal Law & Justice Weekly

36 thoughts on “Andrew Picard: Did he get a soft sentence for being an Etonian?”

  1. Thank for that but I am left with the feeling that Daddy must have made sure his son did all the right things ( allegedly)

  2. I am not sure that justice is served by the lynch mob mentality on anti-social media or indeed by the latest fad, that if enough half-wits sign an on-line, petition this makes their collective views right. Only the court has all the facts in front of it. The desire for highly punitive sentences, even for lesser crimes, is a sad feature of modern society and the nonentities sitting with their laptops who think that their sad opinions matter. Let’s hope that none of them ever gets called up for jury service. Mob justice is no justice at all.

    1. I find your comment deeply offensive, and patronising. I would not consider my self a “non entity”, a half wit or a sad person. However if my views regarding the gross inadequacy of the sentence handed out to Andrew Boeckman make you place me within those catagories I will bear that membership with pride. This young man, (who I might add is non the less old enough to marry and old enough to drive), was viewing and trading images of two year old children being raped. Similar aged children were being forced to have sex with animals. The tone of your post suggests that you consider this to be a “lesser crime”. In the real world most of us do not. I suggest that you have the problem not me.

      1. I don’t think he was in fact distributing the worst images. The reports are not clear, but it sounds as though the images of very young children being raped etc were not distributed by him.

        1. From the Daily Mail (which I concede is not the most reliable of sources), also The Independent. Thank you for your reply, and also taking the time to explain the rationale behind the sentencing. I still feel that the sentence was woefully inadequate. If people like Andrew Boeckman did not wish to view these images, there would be no market for them. In my simplistic mind that makes him almost as culpable as the people making them.

          A former Eton College student avoided jail today despite making and distributing ‘appalling’ indecent images of children and bestiality film clips.

          Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3464216/Eton-College-student-shared-appalling-child-abuse-pictures-babies-young-two-raped-dorm-computer-spared-jail.html#ixzz41s5uRvl7
          Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

          Oxford Crown Court has heard that Picard made indecent images of children and shared them via Skype chat rooms between January and February of last year. Some of the images included children as young as 2-years-old being forced to have sex with dogs.

          1. You could well be right. However even distributing Cat A images would still only suggest a 16 month sentence, which could also have been suspended. I think the real issue here is the decision to suspend.

          2. Teresa, I’m sorry if you feel offended but no-one has the right not to be offended. Other people say things that offend me everyday, but that’s just tough. First of all I did not say that this was a lesser crime, what I did say was: ” The desire for highly punitive sentences, even for lesser crimes, is a sad feature of modern society.” You really shouldn’t jump to conclusions.

            One of the reasons why we have courts that are independent of both ‘victims’ and ‘perpetrators’ is precisely, may I suggest, because people like yourself allow emotion to overrule reason.

            The young man may be old enough to marry (now) and to drive a car (now) but I fail to see what that, and having been to Eton, has to do with the case. Having a criminal conviction and a suspended sentence is not “getting away Scott free.” As Luke pointed out his life is now ruined, his employment prospects are virtually zero and he will be a social pariah probably for the rest of his life.

            By the way, I went to a secondary modern school a long time ago and not to Eton.

  3. “But nobody seems to have considered that he was for legal purposes still a child when he committed the offence. There seems to be something rather odd about a law which would have ensured him anonymity had he been prosecuted at the time the offences were committed, but which has resulted in maximum publicity because the prosecution did not happen until he became an adult.”

    I suppose the question is whether he is mad, bad or simply immature? Whatever, he has certainly been publicly shamed and maybe, given his presumed intelligence and privilege, that is not altogether a bad thing if he is genuine in remorse and reform.Could be a wake up call.

    I wonder what his sentence might have been though, were the offending to have been discovered when he was say, 25? Would it have attracted similar leniency?

  4. What shocks me to the core is that in most of the media coverage, and comments, of this case no one seems to have considered the effects on the victims at all.Even the judge mentioned the trauma to HIS family….what about the trauma to the children concerned. The ones he madeto strip, the child who was raped and the sharing of that video.? Also why was he not required to sign the Sex offenders’ register? He has blighted the lives of many children. Over 1000? Of course he is remorseful…..he was after all found out. Had he been sent to jail I see no reason as to why he could not have continued having his therapy there. But there seems to be absolutely no remorse and consideration given by him to his victims. 17 year olds in these public boarding schools are very sophisticated and grown up. I hope and pray that the victims, some of whom were very young, are given as much counselling as he is getting. They are going to need it. Some of them will never recover.

  5. As you say, the discounts for youth & an early plea, taken together, do get us to the region of 10 months for any individual element of the offence; if we think of it as two or three separate sentences to be served concurrently, the mystery disappears. I think there’s a case for saying that the different elements should have been sentenced additively, though, particularly given that the case involved ‘class A’ images involving children.

    As for the sentence being suspended, good: far too many people get immediate custody. It is a bad thing if extraneous factors influenced the judge’s decision to suspend (although of course we can’t know if they did), but in that case two wrongs would actually make a right.

  6. Thank you for a walk through for people like me who look at cases like this and go ‘what on earth!?!’
    I was a youth worker for over 14 years and myself worked with a couple of young men who were already on the sex offenders register. They hadn’t had ‘hard time’ but were in the community, at college, albeit with a youth worker ‘acting’ as support to him in and out of classes. Personal feelings didn’t come into it at all, I had a job to do. I was informed that if anything at all untoward happened, or I felt pressured or threatened, I would be taken away from the case and someone else would be found (we were all female youth workers and I was considered the most empathetic, yet tough and ‘hard’. Their words)
    There has surely got to be a better way than this however to prevent these actions happening if the result is, in the public’s eyes at least, so lenient. I do think the confusion arises as people believe he is responsible for literally taking over 200 images of children and toddlers. (as much as I do not like this guy, I don’t believe he did this. making and collecting/distributing are still both horrendous acts but they are acts that are at different ends of the ‘spectrum’, so to speak)
    A lot of misinformation is doing the rounds as evidenced in pieces thus: https://thecolemanexperience.wordpress.com/2016/03/01/andrew-picardboeckman-and-the-vip-paedophile-connection/
    and this does make me wonder if it would be best, almost, to keep all media out of court? But another commentator is right, lynch mob justice is rampant.
    Thank you though for the thorough explanation

  7. In this instance the law comes over as being a complete ass. This young man was peddling images that involved toddler rape, and beastiality. If the law decrees that the appropriate sentence for this is 10 months suspended, but most right thinking, normal people consider that sentence to be pitifully inadequate, the odds are it is.

    This is not about a “mob mentality”. It is about the fact that this young man has essentially walked away Scot free, unlike the children who were coerced.

    Adam Johnson the footballer will undoubtedly served a goodly prison sentence. What he did was wrong, but was it more wrong than the acts carried out by Andrew Boeckman?

    1. Again, my reading of the press reports is that he was not “peddling images that involved toddler rape, and beastiality.” He possessed such images. It does make a difference in sentencing terms.

      1. Interesting interpretation of ‘peddling’ – the press reports that remain available on the web (there has been a massive clean up operation in the last few weeks) made it clear that he had been offering young people videos in exchange for naked images of themselves – an offer he made to the police officer that caught him in the online internet chat room where he met some of his victims. That sounds like peddling to me.

  8. Thank you for this clarification of the case. As one of the “nonentities” that signed the petition i would have been left in perpetual ignorance as to the reasoning behind the sentencing without this detailed explanation.

    I agree wholeheartedly that prison is no place for any young person and should be avoided if possible. My only issue was the failure to be added to the sex offenders register , that has now been clarified to all that take the time to read all the information you have posted.

    In today’s instant information age and ill informed opinion forming ,i believe in cases such as these the courts may better serve the public by offering sentencing explanations such as this to avoid confusion among the nonentities whose opinion apparently counts for nothing according to some .

  9. At times the Law is a “Ass”

    There may be ‘correct” reasons why he has escaped a stronger punishment etc

    But make No mistake. The world now knows .The public are the ones left to decide what happens . Will anyone want to employ him. Will people want to work with him. Will people get upset if they find themselves in his company etc .Could that lead to Violence etc . Will he now have to declare this when he visits America .If he is a citizen it may not be so bad. If he is not, could the immigration service deny him entry ?

    He is ruined , but not as bad as those poor children abused by such disgusting vile animals as this young man . His father will need to look after his son and pref not in the UK for the rest of his life.
    Society will not forgive animals like this nor accept court rulings .

    [Edited]

  10. Maybe naively so I have set up a petition for the government to give mandatory sentencing for child pornography offences.

    Child pornography is an area of crime that seems to be given much leniency compared to other crimes. Even if nothing comes of the petition I hope to raise awareness even if it is just to keep this evil man and his privileged family in the media.

    Anyone who would like to sign, feel free…

    https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/123077

  11. Thankyou for your comprehensive and very “understandable” run through of the case. As one of those “keyboard warriors” mentioned earlier I would like to raise an issue for the rise in “lynch mob” justice that seems to have been on the rise since Social Media became accessible to all. I am an ordinary working guy, I don’t consider myself to be a “wrong un”, I have lived my 55 years on this planet trying to be respectful and law abiding and to have treated other people in a decent fashion. I have a firm belief that the “Law” has lost its way and it no longer represents anyone who cannot afford an expensive Barrister or has connections in the “right places”. Since we all became able to access huge amounts of news at the “flick of a mouse”, our senses have been overwhelmed by the bestiality and violence that surrounds us. The tea time news is often a “carnage fest” we see child molesters, rapists and violent people at every click of the remote. Yet we feel further away from protection as each day dawns. The forces of law and order dwindle, those that we do interact with are a shadow of days gone by when they were held in great respect and the “local bobby” was a man to whom you listened. Social media has a lot to answer for, the internet likewise. In the same way that a million people can judge a man guilty with no in depth knowledge of his deeds, because they “saw it on Facebook”, an evil man or woman can spread filth and corruption worldwide, thus increasing their circle of acquaintances with the same perverted interests. Street justice is not good, it leads to mistakes and eventually to Anarchy. However a system of justice which appears to favour the rich and connected is worse as it can also lead to anarchy. If you expect people to believe in a just system, you must give them a just system to believe in.

  12. Thank you for a reasoned, intelligent review of the case and explanation of the sentence. I agree with all of the points that you make however I would be interested to know what kind of supervision there is to ensure that the rehabilitation through counselling is maintained and not just a stunt to reduce a sentence. This is a horrific case and attacking members of his family is not going to help anyone. I know a lot of people here feel very strongly, as do I, about the victims. The initial reaction I had to the sentencing was one of shock and disgust, but this was due, I feel, to poor reporting. Childline is a lifesaver (literally) for abused children and they desperately need funding, I hope that the publicity about this case will result in an increase in donations to them as that’s how we can help the victims of this utterly dehumanising and life-limiting crime.

    1. I suppose the main supervision is that he is on a suspended sentence order, with a condition that he complies with mental health treatment of some sort (presumably as directed by a doctor). Also, the Sexual Harm Prevention Order will restrict his activities for at least 5 years (that’s the minimum, I don’t know how long it is in his case).

  13. I think you are completely right. If the vast majority of ordinary law abiding citizens look at a sentence that is handed down for a crime, and their initial reaction is that, given the gravity of the crime the sentence is woefully inadequate, then the odds are it is. It might well follow the sentencing guidelines, but that suggests those guidelines are flawed. Just perhaps, the halfwits and non entities derived by Wadeson above might.

    Andrew Picard was involved in the creation and peddling of the most vile images, involving vulnerable children. He has walked away from that without serving any prison time. That to most normal people is wrong.

    Andrew Picard might need help for his perversions, but I would argue that the children who are being violently abused to feed his addictions need a great deal more help.

    The message that this sentence sends out is that if you engage in these sort of paedophilic activities, all you need to do, is employ a highly expensive lawyer, say sorry and you can walk straight back to your computer and the dark web. Not much of a deterrent is it?

  14. ‘Whether there was an attempt to avoid publicity, or whether Mr Picard, like many people, switches between different names for different purposes I have no idea’

    ###

    Is there not an obvious issue of public protection to be considered here?

    His ‘public’ name, or at least the one he used for his swimming activities, was Boeckman. This is the name by which he would known to any potential ‘real life’, in person, victims, and given what has been reported about his online MO, swimming events would have been a target rich environment for him.

    This presumably would have been known to whoever decided to run the prosecution in his mother’s name.

    It’s all very well saying with the benefit of hindsight any attempt to hide his true identity has failed. That would not have been known when he was charged.

    He should have been charged under the name he normal used so that any potential victims could have recognised and identified him.

  15. Have followed this with interest. However, another case might interest you – that of Doug Richard (ex-Dragon’s Den). My understanding was that he was charged with meeting a 13-year-old female for sex after chatting with her and her friend on a ‘sugar daddy’ website and requesting erotic photos. Ultimately – again, as I understand it – he was found not guilty because he believed the girl to be 17, hence over the age of consent. However, that would still mean that the erotic photos he sought were illegal, as any erotic photos of persons under the age of 18 are considered child pornography. Given that he stated in court in his defence to the child sex charge that he believed the girl to be 17, this amounts to an in-court admission of knowingly obtaining CP. Yet despite this the police/CPS have made no moves in terms of prosecuting him for that offence. How hard can it be to prosecute someone for an offence they’ve admitted to in court?

    1. I haven’t followed the Dragon’s case very carefully & you may well have a point. But you are not right to say that “any erotic photos of a 17 y.o. are considered child pornography.” To be illegal the picture must be not “erotic” but “indecent.” There is an overlap but the two words do not mean the same thing. As to where the boundary lies – I couldn’t begin to define it.

      1. Sorry, was being lax with my terms. The two key terms are, of course, ‘indecent’ (stemming from legislation) and ‘erotic posing’ (stemming from case law). From what I read, the images he sought were of the girl semi-clad or nude and in sexually suggestive positions. I don’t think there’d be any room for doubt here, as from what I read judges are increasingly looking to presumed viewer response in deciding whether something is considered ‘indecent’ or ‘erotic posing’, even though both (to my interpretation) refer to properties of the image rather than presumed viewer response. There aren’t many details in the press on the posing in the photos, but in the current (legal) climate if a man seeks images of a semi-clad or nude 17-year-old within the context of flirtation in preparation for a sexual encounter, then I can’t see any room for ambiguity, especially if he’s admitted to that in court. (Admittedly I’m a layman here.)

  16. Strange how so many of the news stories relating to this case (whether referring to the man as Andrew Picard or Andrew Boeckman) have disappeared from search results (as Google says, because of European Data Protection ‘right to be forgotten’ laws) within a few weeks of the trial ending.

    One also has to question whether the police or child protection agencies have advised the Chelsea and Westminster Swimming Club, where Andrew Boeckman helped organise events with young swimmers, of this man’s criminal activity?

    This is nothing to do with ‘mob rule’ but with protecting the young and vulnerable and not permitting another institutional cover up on the scale of Savile.

    On a broader note, it seems strange that a 17 year old should still be considered a child.

    1. On the latter point, a 17 year old is considered a child for the purpose of making indecent images. Would you advocate lowering that age so that indecent images of 17 year olds should be legal?

      1. No – I don’t think that at all – being a prude I think the age for indecent images should be raised to 21. Inconsistent perhaps (and probably not doable in law) but the sexualisation of the young seems to me to be feeding the desires of those who seek to exploit them.

    2. On another wider note – the issue that really concerns me is the attitude of the judges. All too often they seem to believe they are gifted with some extra insight into the human mind, simply by virtue of their elevated status. They should be reminded that they are fallible – gullible even – and in many ways more easily fooled (since they appear so confident they can’t be).

      Who can say someone has show true remorse. We know from all the psychological studies that predatory paedophiles are highly manipulative. Many who come to public notices appear to have taken to heart the adage: once you can fake sincerity you are made.

      Judges and health professionals in particular seem to have a unrealistic belief in the power of redemption and far too ready to believe anyone who cries or who claims to have found god (preferably both). Now it seems predatory paedophiles have a new line of defence – a doctor’s note.

      Here’s how it works: sign yourself up with some quack who claims to ‘cure’ sexual deviants. Confess your crimes (some paedophiles may be genuinely conflicted and the rest are probably perfectly capable of turning on the remorse when needed). Your Dr can’t disclose your crimes because of client confidentiality – but you can call them as witness to your “desire to reform” when ever it becomes necessary. Meanwhile, they will probably introduce you to others ‘looking for a cure’ (which is simply an excellent opportunity for ‘networking’ with like minded deviants).

      Rule one, two and three with perverts – never, ever trust them. And remember, there is precious little robust scientific evidence that they can be cured.

  17. I do wonder how well we deal with these things, i.e. Crimes of a sexual nature.
    I ‘m not sure that our approach is very i ntelligent or thought through.I do not have a problem with severe punishment, but as important to me,what course of action should we take to endeavour to prevent these things happening again.This is important. To me in the longer term if we are to endeavour to reduce the frquency of these offences.

  18. how can Adam Johnson get a six year sentence for what he pleaded guilty for, and Andrew boeckman get no prison sentence. to the average layman this is outrageous !

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