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'Despicable' paedophile who raped baby also took photo of naked child on Welsh beach

By Oliver Clay & Mark Smith

A "despicable" paedophile has received a life sentence after he was found to have committed "depraved" crimes, including raping a baby and taking pictures of the abuse. Gareth Andrew Davis, 43, of Ashridge Street, Runcorn, appeared at Chester Crown Court on Tuesday after the National Crime Agency (NCA) discovered that indecent photographs had been uploaded to a Google account in his name.

Cheryl Mottram, prosecuting, said NCA investigators had suspicions Davis featured among the 512 child abuse images, and a warrant was executed at his home address. Enquiries established that some of the images were of Davis himself abusing a baby while another photograph was identified as one Davis had secretly taken of a naked child at a beach in North Wales.

Following the NCA investigation, he was arrested and his Samsung phone seized. The court heard Davis gave “no comment” answers when questioned. WhatsApp messages showed Davis had shared some of his sick stash with “a male in the North East" and had discussed abuse in a chat room, Liverpool Echo reports. His depraved collection also featured about 600 pictures of him simulating sexual abuse with a child’s baby doll including with his “hand round the neck simulating strangulation”.

These did not form part of the charges against him but were later referred to as evidence of an additional “violent” risk posed by paedophile Davis. He pleaded guilty at his plea hearing at Chester Crown Court on December 3 last year to rape of a child under 13, sexual assault by penetration of a child under 13, and three counts of making indecent images: 36 of the most heinous type Category A, 382 Category B and 94 Category C.

Five further counts were ordered to lie on file. Ms Mottram read harrowing victim personal statements submitted by the rape victim’s mother and the beach image victim’s mother.

Davis had no previous convictions but Judge Steven Everett, Recorder of Chester, said this could not be used as mitigation for Davis as he had used his supposed “good character” as a means to have access to commit abuse. During discussions over types of sentence, Judge Everett compared the case with that of former Lostprophets rock musician Ian Watkins who was convicted of abuse in 2014 and given a 35-year sentence, comprising 29 years in prison plus six on extended licence.

Judge Everett said Davis’s “troubling” imagery of himself simulating strangulation meant “alarm bells are truly ringing”. He told the court: “They cause me real concern, not just of a sexual nature, a sexual nature is bad enough, but real concern that he’s a double danger in that regard.”

He opted not to impose a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) because of the “long time” Davis would inevitably serve in prison and on life licence. The judge said psychiatric and probation reports found Davis had no mental illness as medically defined.

Instead, Davis had sought to “minimise” his vile acts and claimed Covid-19 lockdown isolation left him feeling lonely and keen to comply with requests from other sick individuals. Judge Everett dismissed that as “arrant nonsense” because the crimes began before the pandemic.

Paul Becker, appearing on behalf of the defence, said he did not want “the public gallery to think I’m in any way condoning what occurred which are disgraceful and wicked offences to a very young baby”, and said it would be “ludicrous” to argue Davis should not be classed as dangerous following his “horrendous” crimes. He argued mitigation for Davis's early guilty pleas, lack of previous convictions, work history and “feelings of humiliation, worthlessness” and “some remorse”.

Mr Becker said the risk posed to the public by David would reduce while he was in custody. He said: “The defendant in custody has gained some education, maths and English.

“He holds a trusted position as a mentor, he’s working as a wing cleaner, he’s gone on a mental health course to address emotions and anxiety.” The judge said a life sentence was “wholly inevitable”.

Judge Everett passed a life sentence, comprising a 27-year prison term with life licence - meaning Davis can be recalled to prison if he breaches his release conditions. Sentencing Davis, he said: “What you’ve pleaded guilty to is the most serious case I’ve had to deal with concerning serious sexual offences.

“It’s the most serious case I’ve dealt with in 40 years or more as a solicitor, barrister and then judge. I’ve not come across a case as serious as this.

“It’s of the extremest seriousness. It’s depraved, disgusting, despicable.

“I could go on. It’s difficult in fact to describe just how bad this case is and what a terrible effect it’s had on so many people.”

He added: “You got caught fortunately because I’ve no doubt had you not been caught you would have continued to be an extreme danger to children...and others. You should understand that some of the matters you put forward to the psychiatrist and probation officer, I utterly reject.”

Commenting on Davis’s potential for violence, Judge Everett said: “You harboured those terrible views towards young children and I’m satisfied you harbour not just views of a sexual nature but of an extremely violent nature including murder. I’m quite satisfied you harbour those views.

“These views came out in an awful way.” The judge ordered a statutory surcharge and for Davis’s sick images to be “locked away securely” by the police so that “the parole board should have the opportunity to see at the time if it arises of your potential release - the parole board should have the opportunity of assessing your awful deeds for themselves when assessing whether you are likely to be released”.

Mr Becker contested that Davis will have to serve two thirds before release and said that level of minimum term served applied to violent offences but it would be half for Davis. The judge said this would not affect the 27-year life sentence.

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Dive Deeper:
'Depraved' paedophile took pictures of himself raping a baby
Chester Crown Court heard harrowing details of the "depraved, disgusting, despicable" abuser's crimes as he was jailed for life
Paedophile took pictures as he sexually abused baby in ‘most serious case in 40 years’
Detectives found 512 images of child abuse, and more than 600 images of simulated abuse on a child’s baby doll.
'Horrific' child rapist sentencing sparks NSPCC plea to abuse victims
The charity spoke out after the "unimaginably cruel" crimes of Gareth Andrew Davis, 43.
Ex-darts champion Ted Hankey jailed for sex assault
The judge at Chester Crown Court said the player had shown ‘more self-pity than remorse’ over the attack, which was…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Beast with ‘strong desire to abuse boys’ jailed for 21 years for child rape
Philip Shield, who has previous convictions for sex offences against three boys, was convicted of attacking another youngster.
Woman who organised rape and sexual abuse of little girl told men involved there were 'no boundaries'
Images of the abuse were found on Vicki Bevan's phone, which she also shared with the two other men involved…
Get all your news in one place