No room in jail for paedophile

A DISABLED paedophile who abused three little girls, including a Drighlington five-year-old, over a 15-year period is still free this week because there is no prison to house him.

One-legged Anthony James, of Cleckheaton, has been convicted of 12 offences of indecent assault and one count of indecency with a child.

But a judge at Leeds Crown Court was forced to postpone sentencing until March and grant the 45-year-old bail because the city's Armley jail does not have the facilities to look after him.

James began his catalogue of abuse in Leeds in the mid-1970s and despite becoming wheelchair-bound after crashing a stolen car in 1979, his offending continued.

Judge James Stewart was outraged at the Prison Service's failure to find an alternative jail in the UK to house him.

He demanded the Home Office be told about the case and ordered a government representative to attend the next hearing to explain whether an alternative prison could be found.

In the meantime the judge imposed a Sexual Offences Prevention Order forbidding James from:

Making contact with any children using the telephone or internet;

Contacting any of his victims;

Having unsupervised access to children;

Working with children;

Inviting children into his home or car;

Loitering near any playground.

A jury convicted James on all but one of the 14 original charges after hearing in a trial late last year that he played on his disability to engineer situations where he was able to carry out his abuse.

His first victim was a five-year-old girl who lived in Drighlington.

He continued to abuse her for more than a decade.

His second victim was aged 10 and his third was just nine when he drove her to a derelict street near Belle Isle and began abusing her.

James has been told to return to Leeds Crown Court on March 4 when he will be told whether or not he will be sent to prison.