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Last Updated: Friday, 26 January 2007, 15:39 GMT
Judge 'had to bail sex offender'
Judge Graham Cottle
Judge Graham Cottle blamed "unusual circumstances"
A judge has said he had to bail a paedophile rather than remand him in custody because of overcrowded jails.

Keith Morris, 46, of Dartmoor, admitted four offences involving children at Exeter Crown Court.

Home Secretary John Reid wrote to judges and magistrates this week asking them to imprison only the most dangerous and persistent criminals.

Judge Graham Cottle said if the case had been held last week he would have sent Morris to prison.

He adjourned sentencing for a pre-sentence report, which could take up to two weeks.

If this case had been here last week it would have been over by now and he would be in Exeter Prison
Judge Graham Cottle

The judge said he had to release Morris on bail following the home secretary's remarks.

He said: "There are difficulties remanding people in custody at the moment and the only reason I am having any discussion about this is because of those difficulties.

"If this case had been here last week it would have been over by now and he would be in Exeter Prison."

He told Morris: "Because of the rather unusual circumstances in operation at the moment I am going to release you on bail.

"The fact that I am granting you bail does not mean that you will receive anything other than a custodial sentence.

"There is no safe or sensible alternative to a prison sentence."

He added that Morris would be subject to a curfew from 0800 to 1700 GMT.

Morris admitted three offences of causing a person under 16 to engage in sexual activity without consent, and one of sexual activity with a child under 16.

He was arrested after complaints were made about his sex activities with a teenage boy at a house in Torquay.

He has previous convictions for sex offences against young boys and admitted to police that he had "a problem with children", and was "attracted to young boys".

The judge did not fix a date for adjournment.

Commenting on the Exeter case, shadow home secretary David Davis said: "People who are clearly guilty of serious offences should not escape custody.

"But, yet again - as a consequence of the government's failure - this is what is happening."




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