“Hands tied” in child porn sentencing, says judge

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Thomas Hazlett was convicted of having child porn after serving a 12 year sentence for raping two young girls

A JUDGE today admitted his powers to protect the public from a convicted paedophile once he is released from prison may not be strong enough.

Thomas Hazlett was sentenced to a four year extended sentence after he was caught with hundreds of indecent images of children.

He committed the crime when he was released early from a 12 year term for raping two young girls.

At Edinburgh Sheriff  Court today Sheriff Kenneth MacIver said the sentence would involve the 71-year-old spending two years behind bars before being released under supervision for the remaining two years.

But the law lord said he felt his hands were tied by Parliament in Hazlett’s case.

He said limits on extended sentences may not be adequate enough to deal with the level of supervision Hazlett needed.

In 1997 he received an eight-year sentence for rape. But four years into that he was convicted of the rape of two young sisters he was babysitting.

He was then sentenced to 12 years for the sex attacks on the girls in 2001.

But earlier this year he was found with 1430 indecent images of children after he released from prison early under supervision.

Supervision

And sentencing Hazlett today Sheriff MacIver said: “The extended sentence must not be more than five years.

“In many ways it is the ideal sentence because it allows for supervision after release.

“Perhaps Parliament has overlooked the importance of extended sentencing.

“Perhaps in your case it tied the hands of the court in offering protection of the public as much as I would have liked.

“I feel that a maximum extended sentence may not deal with the level of supervision required.

“The fact you were again involving yourself with matters of this nature is a serious concern.

“When you come to be released again it would be appropriate for a supervision order to be as long as realistic so there can be control of your behaviour.”

The sheriff said he would take into account the fact that Hazlett was “willing and anxious” to accept his culpability.

On Wednesday he was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment for breaching the conditions of his release from the 12 year sentence at the High Court in Edinburgh.

The extended sentence he was given today will be added on to this.

Police found the images on his computer when they made an unannounced visit to his house on May 31 this year.

He pleaded guilty to possessing the images in Edinburgh’s Redford Road in September.

Hazlett’s defence lawyer Steven Knowles said his client, who is in Saughton prison, was suffering health problems.

Sheriff MacIver said a jail term was “absolutely appropriate” in the circumstances.

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