St Albans paedophile has sentence slashed

A PAEDOPHILE who was caught trying to photograph young girls changing at a leisure centre has had his prison sentence slashed by top judges in London.

Martin Fitch, 40, of North Orbital Road, St Albans, was not prosecuted over his changing room photography but jailed after police found thousands of images of child porn on his computers.

Fitch pleaded guilty to 13 counts of making indecent photos and one of possessing an indecent image and was jailed for four years, with an extra three years on licence after release.

But he appealed and on Friday had his sentence slashed to three years by Lord Justice Laws, Mr Justice Beatson and Mr Justice Foskett at London’s Court of Appeal.

Lord Justice Laws said the court had “no alternative” but to cut the sentence and remove the public protection which would have been provided by the extra licence period on release.

Fitch had been caught when a complaint was made at the Watford leisure centre of him putting a camera under cubicle doors in order to capture images of young girls. His home was searched and, on two computers, more than 4,500 indecent images of children found with one in the most serious category, depicting horrific child abuse.

Lord Justice Laws said Fitch’s deviant conduct was escalating, justifying the sentencing judge’s finding that he is a significant risk to children, but he added: “We have concluded, with a good deal of misgiving and some reluctance, that the custodial term of four years was, for this offending, too high.”

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The minimum requirement for a sentence with extended licence conditions – designed to protect the public – is a four-year custodial term. As Fitch’s sentence was cut to three years, it means the extended licence was also removed.