Paedophiles’ trials were not prejudiced

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TWO paedophiles serving long sentences for attacks on young children have failed to convince leading judges that they did not get fair trials.

In an important guideline case the pair claimed jurors were prejudiced against them after being told they had earlier admitted child pornography offences.

Stephen Leonard Unwin, 46, of Powell Road, Buckley and Neil Andrew Durston, 41, of Newtown, Powys, were found guilty – at separate trials – of a string of child sex offences.

Jurors were told they had previously pleaded guilty to child porn offences, a fact which prompted a test case at London’s Appeal Court where the men’s lawyers argued their trials were unfair and the guilty verdicts “unsafe”.

Their appeals were dismissed by three of the country’s most senior judges who said the images were evidence of their “sexual interest in children” and the fact the jury was told about them did not affect the fairness of the trials.

Lord Justice Hughes, sitting with Mr Justice Roderick Evans and Mrs Justice Gloster, said both men were found guilty of a series of serious sexual offences against young children.

The court heard Unwin raped and abused two girls, both of them under 16 at the time.

Arrested in April 2008, police found a stash of sick photographs and DVDs on a computer in his loft including images in the most serious category of child pornography.

He was jailed for 13 years at Mold Crown Court last October after being convicted of six counts of rape and three of indecent assault.

He had admitted 10 counts of possessing indecent images of children before his trial.

Lawyers for both men argued their convictions should be overturned, saying the jury should not have been told about the child pornography counts they had confessed to as it was “overly prejudicial” and made their trials “unfair”.

Dismissing their appeals Lord Justice Hughes said there was “very powerful evidence” against both men and the pornography evidence demonstrated their sexual interest in children.

Referring to Unwin’s case, the judge added: “The jury was entitled to find that this evidence tended to show that the complaints were not false, but were made against a man who would indeed have had the sexual interest in young children his victims said he had.”

See full story in the Leader

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