I read this article today.
It is about a man called Stewart Morris, a man who lives in the town I grew up in. Mr. Morris is a musician who sometimes played in the orchestra of the town’s Concordia theatre. Sadly it is not about his love of music. The article is about how Mr. Morris has escaped a prison sentence for making and keeping child sex images and videos over a five year period.
I am so angry about this article I don’t actually know where to start with it to be honest. I’ve been thinking about it all day on and off. There are so many reprehensible things in it.
Like the fact that the judge decided that as there was a delay in bringing the case to court, he felt that a prison sentence would not be beneficial because Mr. Morris has suffered enough, what with all the waiting and the worrying etc.
Can we measure Mr. Morris’ suffering against the suffering of the thousands of children he took delight in perusing images of while they were being degraded, humiliated and damaged, for his pleasure and the pleasure of others like him?
Can we be more lenient with Mr. Morris because he didn’t actually go out and molest children? Instead he stayed at home and took pleasure in watching other people molest children, and then colluded with them to spread those images to other people who also took pleasure in them.
For me, we cannot. For those children, many of whom are probably still going through unspeakable horrors, the suffering never ends. They don’t get to wake up tomorrow thinking; ‘That’s it. I’ve done my time. Clean slate.’
It’s not even as if it stops with them. Sadly, abuse is often passed on, as damaged children grow into damaged adults who don’t know any other way of treating children or expressing affection. The suffering that Mr. Morris has helped to perpetrate will live on long after Mr. Morris has gone to meet his maker.
So, no. I don’t really think Mr. Morris has suffered enough.
Then there are the other factors that the judge took into account when passing judgement on Mr. Morris.
You see, apparently Mr. Morris blames his introduction into the world of online child porn on boredom. Mr. Morris, it appears, was not as successful as Mrs. Morris, who runs a thriving drama school. Mrs. Morris often had to go away to work, and left poor old Mr. Morris twiddling his thumbs at home with nothing to do.
If only Mrs. Morris hadn’t been a successful business woman, Mr. Morris wouldn’t have spent the last five years wilfully trawling the internet to find pictures and film of children being fucked by grown ups to get off on. He also wouldn’t have then progressed to making and distributing those pictures himself, including pictures of children as young as two.
The police were too late to stop a quantity of files being deleted. One would presume that the first to be deleted would be the worst of the bunch, because child pornography comes with its own glorious system of classification you see, from outright eye bleeding evil to merely appallingly depraved. God knows what was on those files. Presumably enough to keep him amused until his wife came home.
You can see now why the judge was so sympathetic. After all, boredom is a terrible thing. No perfectly reasonable adult can be expected to amuse themselves for hours every day with pedestrian hobbies or getting a job when they could be watching child pornography instead.
We must not forget, in the spirit of fairness to include the details in the article which show how Mr. Morris has repented. It would be churlish of me not to give him his due.
After seeing the error of his ways, or being caught, as I like to think of it (and I would like to take bets on how long it would take him to see the error of his ways if he hadn’t been caught), Mr. Morris has been extremely penitent. The judge has acknowledged that Mr. Morris feels disgusted with himself (again I would ask how disgusted he would feel if he hadn’t been caught), and applauded the fact that he and his wife, who is sticking by him, have been on a course to learn about how terrible being a paedophile is, which cost them nearly £1000, which is a lot of money.
It appears that the cost of five years worth of unrepentant and persistent use of child pornography is therefore about a grand. Cheap at half the price. It also seems that Mr. Morris’ moral compass is so sadly awry that it did not occur to him before he was caught that being a paedophile was troubling in any way. Good job there are courses out there to keep us on the straight and narrow, eh?
The article states that he was taught to understand that some of the children in those pictures and videos didn’t actually want to be in them and were drugged or coerced or worse. Apparently, up to then he had thought they might just be harmless photographs, presumably made with willing participants.
Willing two year old participants, who love having sex with grown men.
Mr. Morris, and I quote, had to face:
‘some quite difficult things’.
While he was on his awareness course.
No wonder the judge thought he had suffered enough.
The final thing that persuaded the judge that Mr. Morris is truly sorry and is mending his ways is that he has now taken up some hobbies, such as, and I quote: ‘cycling, swimming and visiting National Trust properties’, so that he is too busy to be left at home alone with the computer.
I would ask firstly, why he didn’t think to take those things up in preference to watching child porn, and secondly if filling his days with things to distract him from using his computer is a good enough reason to believe that he has changed his ways?
Apparently he now wants to give something back to the community by becoming a driver for AGE UK.
Which is comforting for the elderly, I am sure.
What really, really makes me angry is that people like this continue to be given the benefit of the doubt when all doubt is actually gone.
On a day when this article sits alongside the news that Stoke Mandeville hospital have announced that they have totalled up the number of Jimmy Savile’s victims to sixty patients during his time there, and that even the ones who officially complained were given the brush off, what sort of message does this send to the most vulnerable in our society?