14 year sentence for Net paedophile

Ex-police officer found to be abusing children he claimed to be protecting

A retired police officer who worked with children has been sentenced to 14 years imprisonment for the rape of four girls and the possession of thousands of indecent images of children on his home computer.

Robert Leonard, 58, appeared before Wolverhampton Crown Court Monday and was found guilty on two counts of rape, one charge of attempted rape and five of indecent assault.

The jury heard how the man who set up West Midlands police's Crimestoppers unit, targeted girls aged five to 16 between 1969 and 1999.

Leonard, a former detective constable for Wollaston, Stourbridge, admitted producing child pornography and having in excess of 4,000 indecent images of children saved on the hard drive of his home computer.

In his sentencing speech, Judge Frank Chapman said: "Each of these [paedophile images] is a victim to a grave offence committed against a child somewhere. That offence has to be committed so that you, amongst others, could look at them."

James Burbridge QC, prosecuting, told the court how Leonard persuaded his victims to keep the assaults their "little secret" and offered one 10 pence to keep quiet about what happened.

The case follows the trial of Oxford University scholar Dr Anthony Gray, after being found guilty of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old boy that he met in a gay Internet chatroom. This month seven Britons were also sentenced for their participation in the world's largest Internet child pornography ring dubbed the "Wonderland Club".

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