When he was a teenager Josh Mason sexually assaulted a toddler, but he’s now walked free from court on a legal technicality.
The 51-year-old committed the crime in the early 1980s and although today it would be classified oral rape with a maximum life sentence.
However, at the time, the maximum sentence in the UK was just three months, reports the Liverpool Echo.
The father of five committed the crime when he was between the ages of 14 and 16 and his young victim went on to suffer depression, nightmares and bed-wetting.
Taking into consideration Mason’s guilty plea, Judge Denis Watson any possible jail time would only be a matter of weeks.
He deemed such a “ridiculously short” sentence to serve “no real purpose” and instead ordered Mason to sign on to the Sex Offenders Register for five years as well as a three-year community order.
“When dealing with non-recent offences, no sentence can be passed on an offender that is greater than could be passed had you been dealt with at the time,” the judge said.
The victim told Liverpool Crown Court that during the assault, Mason had removed both their clothes and said: “I’ll do it to you and you do it to me.”
Mason had confessed to the crime when his victim was a teenager, but the matter was not taken to police, the court heard.
The victim’s mother told police he was a danger to children in 2010 and he received another complaint in 2015.
Mason’s defence attorney, Nicholas Walker, said his client was “deeply sorry” and that although “there is only one victim in this case, it is evident from everything the court has read that this single incident in the 1980s still haunts both men.”
The judge said that while he acknowledged Mason had committed a “grave offence which has had a lasting impact”, he believed he was “wracked with remorse”.