Former school governor, 72, faces jail after admitting having sex with an ‘obscene’ life-size child doll as border guards report a surge in the number of the sick robots flooding in from China
- Churchwarden bought doll which he said was a ‘companion’ for him and his wife
- His lawyers wanted to argue the sex aid was not ‘obscene’ under the law
- But judge throws out their claim and defendant now faces possible jail term
- Border guards say imported child-like sex dolls are a growing problem in the UK
David Turner faces jail following a ruling over child sex dolls like those he imported
A former churchwarden faces jail after a judge dismissed a claim a child sex doll he imported was not ‘obscene’.
Ex-primary school governor David Turner, 72, pleaded guilty to importing the child sex doll after an application to dismiss the charge was turned down.
Border guards have seen a surge in seizures of child-like sex dolls, leading investigators to identify dozens of previously unknown suspected paedophiles.
Turner, of Ramsgate, was also found to have 17 pen drives containing more than 33,000 indecent category C images of children aged three to 16 when he was arrested.
In police custody, Turner admitted buying clothing for his doll and claimed he had bought it as a ‘companion’ to join him and his wife.
He also admitted having sex with another, similar, doll, the National Crime Agency have said.
His defence team asked the judge at Canterbury Crown Court for a ‘trial of issue’ to rule on whether the dolls are obscene, but the claim was dismissed today.
The lifelike silicone sex aids, which weigh around 55lb (25kg) and can cost thousands of pounds, are being imported into the UK after being sold by traders on sites including Amazon and eBay, the National Crime Agency (NCA) said.
The dolls, often manufactured in China and Hong Kong, are a ‘relatively new phenomenon’ in the UK and should be criminalised, the operations manager at the NCA’s Child Exploitation Command, Hazel Stewart, said.
Border officials have seen a surge in the number of child sex dolls being imported to the UK. Pictured are some of the dolls seized by the National Crime Agency
Border Force officers have seized 123 dolls in little more than a year since March 2016 and so far seven people have been charged with importing them, including one man who was jailed last month.
Of the seven men charged with importing the dolls so far, six also faced child porn allegations.
Dan Scully, deputy director for intelligence operations at the Border Force, said this showed those who ordered the models often strayed into sex crimes.
‘Border Force intelligence and detection officers started to notice an increase in prevalence of seizing these child-like dolls.
‘What’s critical, I think, for this investigation, these items were going to individuals, in many cases, who were committing other offences in relation to harm of children,’ he said.
‘They were also, critically, people who were otherwise unknown to UK law enforcement in having an interest in sexual activity with children.
‘By identifying these importations, working with partners, what we’ve identified is a whole set of people with interests in sexual activity with children who were completely unknown.’
Turner (pictured ay court with his daughter) said the doll was a ‘companion’ for him and his wife. He will be sentenced next month following the first-of-its-kind ruling today
The trial of issue at Canterbury Crown Court in the case of Turner was described as setting an ‘important’ precedent in how suspects can be prosecuted.
Turner was unable to be sentenced on Monday because a pre-sentence report had not been prepared. Judge Simon James said the importation of a child sex doll was an ‘unusual offence’ and that it ‘adds a degree of complexity’.
He was freed on bail to be sentenced on September 8 for the importation charge and for pleading guilty at an earlier hearing to possessing or making more than 34,000 indecent images of children aged around three to 16.
A doll like that which Turner tried to import was shown by the National Crime Agency in a bid to raise awareness of the growing problem
Jon Brown, from children’s charity the NSPCC, said: ‘There is no evidence to support the idea that the use of so-called child sex dolls helps potential abusers from committing contact offences against real children.
‘And in fact there is a risk that those using these child sex dolls or realistic props could become desensitised and their behaviour becomes normalised to them, so that they go on to harm children themselves, as is often the case with those who view indecent images.
‘The NSPCC is calling on Government to take action to criminalise the manufacturing, distribution and possession of these grotesque dolls, in the same way it does indecent images of children.
‘And until this loophole is closed, online retailers who have these items available to purchase should immediately remove them from sale.’
The charity also called on the Government to criminalise the manufacture, distribution and possession of the ‘grotesque’ dolls.