- Neil Wilson was originally jailed for 12 months, suspended for two years
- Row broke out after young girl was labelled 'predatory' during hearing
- Judges at Court of Appeal have now ruled sentence was 'unduly lenient'
By James Rush
Neil Wilson has been ordered to serve two years behind bars after his previous sentence was considered 'plainly and without doubt unduly lenient' by leading judges
A paedophile who walked free from court after his 13-year-old victim was branded 'predatory' has been ordered to serve a two-year jail sentence.
Three judges at the Court of Appeal in London ruled that the non-custodial term originally handed to Neil Wilson, 40, was 'plainly and without doubt unduly lenient'.
Wilson was spared jail in August after Judge Nigel Peters QC handed him a sentence of 12 months, suspended for two years, at Snaresbrook Crown Court.
Wilson admitted engaging in sexual activity with the child, as well as offences of making indecent images of a child and offences of possession of an extreme pornographic image.
A row broke out shortly after the case was heard at London's Snaresbrook Crown Court when it emerged that prosecuting barrister Robert Colover had labelled the young girl 'predatory' and 'sexually experienced'.
Sentencing Wilson, Judge Peters told him: 'On these facts, the girl was predatory and was egging you on.'
The case prompted a national outcry before the Attorney General Dominic Grieve referred the sentence given to Wilson, formerly of Romford, Essex, and now living in York, to appeal judges to decide if it should be increased.
Prime Minister David Cameron even intervened in the row, saying, 'We need a criminal justice system that stands up properly for victims.
'The victims of crime should always be at the centre of our thinking.'
The Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas and two other judges have now quashed the suspended sentence and ordered Wilson to surrender to police in York by 6pm
Attorney General Dominic Grieve, left, made the decision after barrister Robert Colover, right, sparked an outcry by describing the man's victim as 'predatory'
The Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas and two other judges have now quashed the suspended sentence and ordered Wilson, who was not present in court, to surrender to police in York by 6pm.
Following the case, the Crown Prosecution Service announced that Mr Colover had agreed to resign from the CPS Rape Panel of advocates, admitting his description of the girl as 'predatory' and 'sexually experienced' was inappropriate.
The CPS said he 'will remain on our general advocate panel and will still be instructed in other criminal cases'.
'I asked the Court of Appeal to examine whether the sentence was appropriate, given the seriousness of the offences, and I am pleased that they have found that this sentence was unduly lenient and have imposed an immediate sentence of imprisonment'
- Attorney General Dominic Grieve
A number of complaints about remarks made during sentencing by Judge Nigel Peters, who said he was taking into account how the girl looked and behaved, are being 'considered' by the Judicial Conduct and Investigations Office (formerly the Office for Judicial Complaints).
At the Court of Appeal today, Lord Thomas said how prosecuting counsel 'came to make the remarks he did is not a matter, as he is not present, we can investigate ourselves'.
He added: 'But in any event it is the duty of the court to sentence on the facts before it. Counsel is there to assist.
'The fact that counsel makes a fundamental error in introducing a factor that is thought to be relevant cannot in any way affect the power of this court in determining what is the correct sentence.'
Lord Thomas went on: 'This is a case where there is no dispute as to what actually happened. It is simply a case where the judge and counsel were in error that it was relevant, as a mitigating factor, that the sexual activity had been initiated by the victim. That was wrong.'
He stressed that the law was there to protect those under 16 from sexual abuse and agreed with the Attorney General that children who encouraged sexual activity needed 'more protection, not less'.
Neil Wilson, pictured, appearing at court via videolink, with Judge Nigel Peters, has been ordered to serve a two-year jail sentence after his original suspended sentence was ruled to be 'unduly lenient'
Judge Nigel Peters leaving Snaresbrook Crown Court. The judge originally handed the paedophile a suspended sentence, but Wilson has now been ordered to serve a two-year sentence
Speaking after the hearing, the Attorney General said: 'Neil Wilson exploited a young and vulnerable girl.
'He pleaded guilty to sexual activity with a child, making indecent photographs of a child and possessing extreme pornography.
'I asked the Court of Appeal to examine whether the sentence was appropriate, given the seriousness of the offences, and I am pleased that they have found that this sentence was unduly lenient and have imposed an immediate sentence of imprisonment.'
Judges at the Court of Appeal (pictured) have ruled the non-custodial term handed to Neil Wilson was 'plainly and without doubt unduly lenient'
Detective Inspector Simon Ellershaw, of the Metropolitan Police's sexual offences, exploitation and child abuse command, said: 'It is unfortunate when some within the criminal justice system perpetuate the myth that vulnerable young people are in some way to blame for the sexual abuse that they suffer.
'The sentence passed today at the Royal Courts of Justice goes some way to redress this. I hope that this will give other victims the confidence to come forward.
'Neil Wilson is the only predator in this case - he took advantage of a girl who was extremely vulnerable in the worst way possible.'
PICKED OFF THE STREET IN HER SCHOOL UNIFORM, TAKEN TO A FLAT AND ABUSED
Neil Wilson spotted his victim amid the bustle of Romford town centre at the start of March last year.
The 13-year-old girl was playing truant from school and wandering the streets asking strangers for cigarettes.
Wilson obliged when she asked him offering her an entire packet. He then took her back to his flat near the town centre for coffee.
The girl allegedly looked around 14 or 15 and acted as if she was older than her years.
However, she was clearly underage and nearly three decades younger than Wilson who was 39 at the time.
Over the next two weeks the pair enjoyed a brief 'fling', Snaresbrook Crown Court heard.
The girl was described by the prosecutor and judge as a 'sexual predator'. But during this time it was Wilson who bombarded her with phone calls and text messages as she continued to visit his home, the court heard.
On March 20, exactly two weeks after her first visit, the girl went back to Wilson's flat after they agreed to meet. They sat in his lounge and talked about their relationship.
Wilson claims at this point he told her they had to stop seeing each other because they would get in trouble.
The girl, who was dressed in her school uniform, asked if she could change out of it and Wilson left the room. When he returned she had undressed and was sat wearing a T-shirt.
Wilson claims he asked her to put her clothes on, but she started kissing him before touching his genitals. He said he pushed her away and told her he did not want to see her any more. At no point did they have sex.
Robert Colover, prosecuting, told the court that the sexual activity was 'not of Mr Wilson's doing'. He added: 'You might say it was forced upon him despite being older and stronger than her.'
The abuse came to light only when the girl told a friend what happened and the police were called.
When officers went to Wilson's home, they found images of child sexual abuse and videos depicting bestiality on his computer.
Four of the images were surreptitiously taken photographs of children in play areas or other safe environments showing either underwear or varying degrees of nakedness.
There were also 11 sexually explicit images involving horses and dogs.
Wilson told police that he watched hardcore pornography but that he had deleted it from his computer.