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Judge tells historic sex abuser: 'It's water under the bridge'
A MAN who sexually abused a child walked free from court after a controversial judge told him his historic offence was “water under the bridge”.
Judge Peter Bowers was at the centre of a media storm in 2012 after telling a serial burglar it took a huge amount of courage to steal from homes.
Following complaints, his comments were investigated by the judicial watchdog, with Prime Minister David Cameron publicly criticising the remarks.
Yesterday (Friday October 18), Judge Bowers attracted further criticism when he handed 35-year-old Gary Flynn a community order after he admitted indecently assaulting a young girl more than 15 years ago.
Flynn, of Belle Vue Court, Norton, near Stockton, admitted touching the younger girl’s genitals and forcing her to have oral sex when he was aged between 16 and 18.
Judge Bowers praised Flynn – previously cautioned for a similar offence - for pleading guilty and sparing his victim the ordeal of giving evidence before handing him a three year community supervision order.
He told him: “You were a teenager suffering from the effects of a head injury which made your maturity and responsibility less than somebody of your age.
“This is water under the bridge. You have lived 15 or 17 years without other convictions and there is no reason to think you will be committing offences in the future.”
His remarks were criticised by those working with abuse victims.
Dilys Davy, of North-East charity ARCH, said: “It might be water under the bridge for him but not for his victim, she has to live with it for the rest of her life.
“His comments are outrageous. It’s as though he is saying that because it happened a long time ago, no harm done.
“This kind of thing can discourage victims from coming forward. A judge’s comments are important and the main reason people say they do not report abuse is the fear that they will not be taken seriously or won’t be believed."
At Teesside Crown Court, Flynn – who pleaded guilty to one count of indecent assault on a child under 16 – was also ordered to sign the sex offenders register.