Child Sex Abuse Justice: Premier League or Eton Mess?

Adfam Johnson pic credit BBC

Sunderland player Adam Johnson; Pic Credit: BBC

ANdrew Boeckman (1)

Andrew ” Picard ” using his father’s surname in an US swimming competition. Picture by I & M Galleries. Photographer: Nicole Harnishfeger

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Two very high profile cases  involving child sexual abuse have recently hit the headlines. One involved the Premier League footballer Adam Johnson, capped 12 times for England. The other involved Andrew Picard ( who used his mother’s name rather than his father’s surname), an Old Etonian from a wealthy , well connected family.

Adam Johnson was given a six year prison sentence for grooming  and sexually assaulting a 15 year old girl, a Sunderland fan besotted with him.

As the BBC reported Judge Jonathan Rose told him he had abused a position of trust and caused his victim “severe psychological harm”. He told Johnson, 28, he had engaged in sexual activity with her knowing she was under 16. Police  also found extreme pornography involving animals on Johnson’s laptop.

Andrew Picard, 18, was spared jail and given a 10 month sentence suspended for 18 months after the police found  over 1155 indecent  children images on his computer in his Eton College dormitory. Like Johnson some of the images involved animals. The judge described some of the videos – which included abuse of babies and toddlers – as “so appalling, frankly I can’t bring myself to talk about it.”

One of his videos showed a girl as young as three being raped, while others showed young children being forced to have sex with dogs. He also shared these videos and images on a chat room where he was unmasked by undercover police.

Now I am not going to defend Adam Johnson or  challenge the sentence he received. He is a Premier League football player who used his  position in society  to take advantage of an under age girl who obviously had a crush on him, and  he took an unhealthy interest in  extreme sex.

But I do think there is an element of rough justice when you compare the sentence handed out to him and the one given to Andrew Picard.  Adam Johnson is a Northern  working  class lad educated at Easington Community College who suddenly became rich through his footballing skills.

Andrew Picard is  the son of a very wealthy American lawyer living in Westminster and has yet to prove himself in any career. Johnson is splashed all over the tabloids, Picard was initially covered by  the tabloids  but already  reports about his case have been taken down by one newspaper and he is starting to  disappear off the internet.

The Mirror reported in a now withdrawn article: ” Sallie Bennett-Jenkins, QC referred to her client’s remorse and pointed to the good work he had been doing with doctors in the past year, undergoing constant treatment with numerous doctors and psychiatrists.

“This is a young and very able man who has hopes for the future,” she added.

“He was able to have this opportunity [to seek help] and this was something Andrew sought for himself, by himself.”

Sparing Picard jail, Judge Ross said a term of custody would undo the good work he had done in the past year undergoing extensive counselling.

He said: “This defendant Andrew Picard was a privileged young man. His family are clearly wealthy enough to send him to school in Eton.

“Quite how you found your way into this unpleasant world Mr Picard, the world of chat rooms and exchanging this material, is not clear to me.”

Now there could be some  mitigating circumstances.which are highlighted by Matthew Scott’s barrister blog.  He points out that but for the delay in bringing the case to court Andrew committed the offences at the age of 17 when he would have been granted anonymity and the press could only say he was a public schoolboy. As it is his father was spared embarrassment by him being charged in his mother’s name – even though this failed when the press found  his surname. I am curious that the Crown Prosecution Service allowed him to be charged under a different name.

More interestingly he points out that the judge imposed an order that could still land him in prison. As he writes : ” Those who think the judge was going soft on Mr Picard need to ask themselves why, if that was the case, did he impose a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (breach of which carries a prison sentence of up to 5 years)? The law did not require him to impose it, he chose to do so. ”

But my view is that this sentencing reflects the present divide in society. The full force of the law comes down on a working class footballer but the law is generous to the crimes of an Old Etonian. I only hope the psychiatrists,doctors and counsellors treating Andrew Picard can get him to change his ways.He is lucky his family can afford them, unlike many child sex victims.

 

 

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Revealed: The Old Etonian Baronet who snapped up London’s fire engines for £2

Sir Aubrey Brocklebank- a hooray henry owning all London’s fire engines for £2? Pic courtesy Daily Telegraph

This is Sir Aubrey Thomas Brocklebank,  6th Baronet Brocklebank, of Greenlands and Irton Hall, Cumberland.

He is now the proud owner – not just of a  battered 2cv  racing car as pictured  here – but of the entire fleet of fire engines owned by the London fire brigade. When you next have a fire in Greater London this is the man who will responsible that the crew arrive in a properly maintained and equipped fire engine.

In the mad world of  privatisation  Sir Aubrey was able to snap the fleet and  get his hands on an income stream worth nearly £200m over the next ten years – for JUST £2.

You the  council taxpayers will be paying this man £1.5m a month to look after London’s fleet. He got this  at a knock down price because  the Greater London Authority foolishly under Ken Livingstone and even more foolishly under Boris Johnson and former London fire chairman, Brian Coleman, sold off  London’s fire engines and a 20 year lease on its own maintenance headquarters in Ruislip to a private firm.

The firm was sold on to AssetCo ( which I have written about extensively) whose  own chief executive, John Shannon, had to be dismissed, when he left it teetering on bankruptcy. The actual engines are at present owned by bankers, Lloyds TSB, one of the chief creditors of AssetCo London which had over £30m in debts and haven’t a penny to  replace the ailing fleet of engines from 2014. This has been admitted by Sue Budden, director of finance,of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, . She told councillors at a meeting last week: “When they look ahead and look at the big vehicle replacement that is due to start in 2014, I think they can see they are not set up to cover that.” The full story by me is on the Exaro  news website at http://www.exaronews.com.

Step in Sir Aubrey who bought ailing  AssetCo for  £2 – without the fire authority or its staff- even knowing until the deal was signed. Such is the new world of privatised services – elected people aren’t even important enough  to know who owns them.

Now Sir Aubrey appears to be the scion of a very famous and powerful shipping family who owned two stately homes. One, Nunsmere Hall in Cheshire was built for his namesake, the third baronet, who went on to join the board of Cunard, and drew up plans for the original Queen Mary in the 1920s. The family have a steam locomotive on the narrow gauge Ravenglass and Eskdale railway named after them and in 1927 there was a swish saloon known as the Brocklebank.

The present Sir Aubrey  even graces the picture collection held by the National Portrait Gallery – with portraits of him and his first wife, Dr  Anna-Marie Dunnet, purchased by the gallery in 2004. He was also like the all the family, educated at Eton but too old at 60, to be a contemporary of London mayor Boris Johnson.

But a closer investigation reveals that  Sir Aubrey is not all he seems. Gone it appears are the two stately homes – both are now hotels. And Sir Aubrey  now remarried  with wife, Lady Hazel, is actually on the electoral register at a£162,500  three bedroomed semi in Stanwick, Wellingborough in Northants – in the constituency of Tory Mp, Peter Bone.

He doesn’t even own his house outright – he has a mortgage with the very democratic Nationwide building society.

It is at this address in July  that he set up a small private company A & AB Investments Ltd, which paid the princely sum of £2 for London’s fire engines. It is this company that is now the ultimate owner of London’s fire services. He has since set up another company Premier Fireserve, based at  the leased maintenance plant owned by the fire brigade.

Nor does he have any of the illustrious careers of his ancestors. Instead he is non executive chair of a series of venture capitalist funds, under the name Puma – who simply offer very good tax avoidance schemes – by investing in anything from hotels, property, antiquarian books – and then liquidating their investments after five years to secure maximum tax relief and returns for their investors. Hardly reassuring for such a permanent feature as providing a fire service which cannot be traded for tax  avoidance.

His only other passion is racing 2cv cars – with a  team known as Twin Snails. Indeed the elderly boy racer competed at Snetterton in Norfolk over the August bank holiday weekend in the British championships. His team have had mixed fortunes -doing better at Snetterton but coming a cropper at Brands Hatch -see http://www.flickr.com/photos/maisiehexagon/492921242/

Now you may think I am making  all this up. I tried to contact Sir Aubrey five times  to find out his side of the story. But he is shy and reclusive when it comes to the press – and he never returned my calls. I wonder why as I never bite.

But I think any reasonable person would think he is not the  first person you would want to run a public service and he hardly even has a particularly good business record. It is time he is held to account and I have great hopes that  Ex MP Andrew Dismore, the Labour assembly member for Camden and Barnet, will pursue him on our behalf by every means possible to find out the truth behind this, on the surface, very dodgy development.