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    Otherhttp://www.thisisbristol.com Article

    11:00 - 07 September 2004

    A Man has escaped a jail sentence despite admitting he had sex with a 12-year-old girl he met via an internet chatroom. Michael Barrett, aged 20, befriended the youngster and kept regular contact with her on his computer and by phone.

    Bristol Crown Court was told how on two occasions the girl had instigated sex with Barrett, who was described as being "younger than his years".

    The court was told the encounters took place when he had stayed as a guest in her Greater Manchester home.

    Barrett, of Southmead, admitted two counts of unlawful sexual intercourse. But instead of being jailed, he was given a two-year conditional discharge. The judge, Michael Roach, described it as "an exceptional case".

    He said: "It seems to me that while you did what you did, in contrast to many cases, there was no sexual coercion.

    "The girl was a willing participant and her family allowed you to stay in their home that night, after which you had second thoughts and you took the view that you had to do something about it and went to the police.

    "I trust you to behave yourself now after reports I've read about you, which have been very positive and encouraging. Set your self straight."

    He ordered Barrett to be placed on the Sex Offenders' Register for two years and he also disqualified him from working with children for the same period.

    Outside court, Barrett said: "I have no intention whatsoever of doing anything like that at all again. I think I have been lucky. I just want to put this behind me."

    The court heard how Barrett met the girl in person in the summer of 2002 at a concert in London. At a previous hearing, Julian Howells, prosecuting, said the girl was then aged just 12 and Barrett was around 17 or 18.

    Mr Howells said: "There was contact with her family, the relationship was not deemed inappropriate and on two occasions he was invited to stay."

    Tabatha Macfarlane, defending, proposed Barrett should be given a conditional discharge, saying that her client was about to become a trainee croupier.

    She also said: "He is highly unlikely to be a risk to anyone."

    The judge said Barrett's co-operation with the authorities had been excellent.
    Man avoids jail term after sex with girl, 12

    Clare Dyer, legal correspondent
    Thursday September 9, 2004
    The Guardian

    The attorney general yesterday asked to examine the file of a man who escaped a jail sentence after admitting he had had sex with a 12-year-old girl he met in an internet chat room.

    Michael Barrett, 20, received a two-year conditional discharge at Bristol crown court on Monday. The trainee croupier, who pleaded guilty to two counts of unlawful sexual intercourse, was 18 when he befriended the girl, then 12, from Manchester.

    The attorney general's office said it was responding to a request by Phoenix Survivors, a support group for victims of child molesters, who had asked for the case to be referred to the court of appeal, which can impose a tougher sentence.

    "We are considering whether the sentence is unduly lenient," a spokeswoman said.

    On sentencing Barrett, of Southmead in Bristol, the judge, Michael Roach, said it was an "exceptional case" as the 12-year-old had instigated sexual contact: "I trust you to behave yourself now ... Set yourself straight," he said.

    Barrett was also put on the sex offenders' register.

    The Mirror

    Sep 8 2004

    By Vanessa Allen

    A JUDGE yesterday freed a man who had sex with a girl of 12 - and said it was her fault they ended up in bed.

    Child protection groups were furious after Michael Barrett, 20, was handed a two-year conditional discharge for the attack.

    MP Dan Norris accused the judge of "playing into the hands of paedophiles". Barrett met the girl in an internet chatroom and later twice had sex with her at her parents' home when he was 18.

    But judge Michael Roach said she was a "willing participant" who instigated sex at the house in Greater Manchester last year when she went to his bedroom.

    He said trainee croupier Barrett was not "predatory to children" and told him: "There was no sexual coercion. Her family allowed you to stay in their home. I trust you to behave yourself now."

    Former child protection officer Mr Norris said: "This is inexcusable and sends out the wrong message.

    "There is no way anybody under 16 is able to make a genuine and informed decision about sex."

    London child-abuse expert Professor Liz Kelly added: "The sentence is saying the age of consent does not matter."

    Kidscape branded the decision "appalling". And the NSPCC said: "It is a very lenient sentence."

    Barrett first met the girl at a 2002 concert in London after contacting her via the internet and phone. He was invited to stay with her family, who did not believe the relationship "inappropriate", the court heard.

    After the case at Bristol crown court, Barrett said: "I have been lucky. I won't do that again."

    He admitted having unlawful sex and has to sign the Sex Offenders' Register for two years.

    A new law in May made sex with under-13s rape, carrying a possible life sentence. But it came into force after Barrett, of Bristol was held.

    Judge Roach has come under fire before for leniency with sex offenders.

    In 2003 he spared Bristol pervert Gary Templar jail after he assaulted a girl of eight.

    And he gave a doctor just one year jail despite a 20 year reign of assaults against eight women.

    The SUn

    A JUDGE was slammed yesterday for allowing a perv who had sex with a girl of 12 to walk free.

    Michael Barrett, 20, admitted having unlawful sex with the girl he met on the Internet. Judge Michael Roach gave him a two-year conditional discharge.

    And this was not the first time Roach – who was accused by MP Dan Norris of “playing into the hands of paedophiles” – has spared a sex offender from jail.

    Last September he sentenced a doctor who carried out a 20-year reign of terrifying assaults on women to just one year's jail.

    Here, one of the doctor's victims, Suzanne Turner, 37, demands Roach's resignation and tells how his lenient sentencing has destroyed her life.


    SUZANNE has been left bitter by her treatment at the hands of Judge Roach.

    She says: “His judgment has scarred me for life. I will never be the same person. He took away my dignity.

    “The man must resign. I don't know how he can look at himself in the mirror.

    “I have still not recovered from the pathetic sentence he gave that doctor.

    “But this latest girl is just a child of 12. How will the sentence on the man who had sex with her make her feel? Not to mention her parents, who must be baying for his blood!”

    And Suzanne's attacker, groping GP Phillip Carman, is not the only sex offender to have benefited from Roach's lenient sentencing.

    In February this year Judge Roach sentenced convicted paedophile, Michael Bolam, 65, of Bath, to a two-year community rehabilitation order after he took three boys to an ice-cream parlour without their parents' knowledge.

    Last year Gary Templar, 32, was convicted at Bristol Crown Court of indecent assault against an eight-year-old girl.

    Judge Roach gave him a 90-hour community punishment order.

    Suzanne, who was shocked and stunned by Carman's sentence, said at the time: “I don't think justice has been done at all.”

    She was assaulted by Carman in 2001. When she contacted the GP's practice manager to complain she says she was calmly told he would “have a word” with the doctor.

    Later, when she contacted the police, she discovered that Carman had done the same thing many times before. A total of eight victims were to come forward.

    Shameful ... Judge Michael Roach

    The offences at his surgery in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, date back to 1983.

    Carman, 50 a divorced father-of-three, attacked the women during routine medical examinations.

    He told one who needed a contraceptive coil fitted: “I thought you wanted it.”

    After a three-week trial he was found guilty of nine counts of indecent assault and jailed for a year.

    Carman was spared a tougher sentence because the convictions meant an end to his career.

    Judge Roach told him: “This is, professionally, a tragedy for you.”

    Roach also said he was bearing in mind that Carman had a fine career, with evidence from partners, nurses and friends saying he was a committed doctor.

    Suzanne felt compelled to waive her right to anonymity at the time to condemn Roach's lenient sentence.

    She says: “Back then I thought the judge should do the honourable thing and resign.

    “With the latest case I think he should be forced to resign.

    “He must confront the damage he is causing to victims who have already been through hell. He is clearly incapable of making fair decisions and his punishments don't fit the crime.”

    Suzanne had originally visited Carman to see if she was emotionally ready to return to work after a suspected miscarriage.

    He falsely insisted she needed an internal examination, even though she was no longer in pain.

    He then pinned her legs open and indecently assaulted her.

    Brave Suzanne was the first of eight women patients to come forward and speak out against the doctor.

    Encouraged by the police and her husband Dave, 35, to speak out, she agreed to give evidence in court.

    But going into the witness box was one of the hardest things she has ever done.

    She says: “My nerves were so shredded. The prosecution went first and only took about 45 minutes to question me.

    “But then the defence got stuck in and started to rip my character to shreds.

    “After the first session of giving evidence I left the courtroom in floods of tears.

    “They tried to say I was making it all up — that it was a sexual fantasy of mine.

    “I was so distressed I almost walked out but the police said that I would let everyone down and convinced me to stay.

    “The defence attacked me and tried to put me off.

    “Judge Roach looked at me only once, to clarify a question I hadn't understood. He had a cold and hard stare on his face.

    “After a day and a half I felt like I had been dragged through the mire. But I was glad it was all over. I had no idea the worst part was yet to come.”

    When passing sentence Judge Roach said the doctor had been punished enough because he had lost his high standing in the community.

    He sentenced him to 12 months for indecent assault on Suzanne and six months for groping the other women, to run concurrently.

    Outrage ... The Sun story yesterday

    In January the Court of Appeal reduced his number of convictions to three counts of indecent assault but increased his sentence to 18 months' jail.

    Suzanne says: “When the original verdict was given I was sickened to the pit of my stomach. I could barely believe what I was hearing. It seemed like he had been let off, given a slap on the wrist.

    “Judge Roach had clearly not taken our suffering into account. It didn't feel like it had been worth putting myself through giving evidence.

    “It had taken every ounce of courage I had to go to the police and then to take the stand in court. I was even given Valium to help to calm my nerves and allow me to give evidence. But once I heard Roach's sentence it was as if it had all been for nothing — it just made everything I had been through even worse.”

    The result shattered Suzanne's confidence and she spiralled into depression.

    She says: “My faith in the British justice system was destroyed that day. I have been seriously depressed since the sentencing.”

    Suzanne, who was working in admin for the Post Office before the trial, has since been unable to return to work because of the trauma she has been through.

    Once a sociable and outgoing person, she is now introverted and barely able to leave her house. A year on from the trial, she is still taking anti-depressants.

    Suzanne feels this new judgment on the perv who had sex with a girl of 12 has yet again made a mockery of the justice system.

    She says: “He should take a good long look at himself and ask himself whether he is actually capable of ruling on such cases.

    “He is affecting people's lives dreadfully and he should do the honourable thing and withdraw from the bench.

    “Essentially, what he had said in this case is that paedophilia is all right and that you will not go to prison if you commit indecent acts on young children. How can someone who thinks that be a judge?”

    She also fears that if he continues to be so lenient with crimes of such a serious nature it will put victims off from coming forward with evidence in the future.

    Suzanne says: “I went through hell and back during my trial and was rewarded with nothing.

    “If he continues to reward the criminals, why would people want to come forward and go through it?

    “I hope he does us all a favour and retires now.

    “I hate him for what he did to me and it sickens me that he is putting others through the same thing.

    “For the good of the justice system he must go now.”

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