Judge criticises delays in analysing computers of suspected paedophiles in Northamptonshire

Northampton Crown Court NNL-140423-093950001
Northampton Crown Court NNL-140423-093950001

A judge has criticised the length of time it has taken for a case involving a 22-year-old Northamptonshire man, who was found to have more than 500 indecent photographs of children on his computer, to come to court.

Lee Harman, of Harborough Road, Rushden, appeared at Northampton Crown Court on Friday and pleaded guilty to a string of charges, including inciting two young girls to engage in sexual activity.

The two charges relate to an incident in Northampton in September 2010, when Harman was aged 17-years-old.

However, it took until February 2013 before Harman was arrested and it was found that he had hundreds of indecent images of children on his computer, including 93 in the most serious category.

He was also charged with distributing indecent images of children between August and September 2011.

Judge Lynn Tayton said she was “astonished” it had taken more than four years after the first offence and two years after his arrest for Harman to appear in court for a plea and case management hearing.

Judge Tayton said she understood a major cause of the delay was the fact a private company was in charge of analysing computers on behalf of the police but didn’t understand the “urgency” of getting evidence ready quickly for the courts.

She said: “This is the second case this week in this court that has suffered from delays examining computers.

“I understand it is a private company doing this work for the police and they have no understanding of the urgency of the cases.

“Particularly in cases that involve young victims it is important cases are heard promptly. The defendant is also entitled to be tried in a timely fashion.

“I find it astonishing this case has come to court four years after the first offence. We have structures in place where cases can go through the system in 12 weeks.”

Harman will be sentenced next month. He was released on bail.