Hemel Hempstead’s MP has pledged to call on the Attorney General to review the sentence of a man convicted of sexually abusing children.
Craig Leyman, 19, of Gadebridge Road in Hemel Hempstead, pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual activity with a child and two counts of inciting a child to watch or look at an image of sexual activity.
The first instances refer to the abuse of a boy aged eight years old, which took place around May last year.
The second counts relate to online offences involving a teenage girl.
Leyman was sentenced to 15 months in prison to run concurrently for all of the offences, which is suspended for two years.
This means he is able to live in the community, though he was also handed a sexual offence prevention order and two year supervision order, as well as being ordered to pay a £100 victim surcharge.
I don’t think the public will understand why the judge has postponed the custodial sentence and let him back into the community. It is quite worryingHemel Hempstead MP Mike Penning
Town MP Mike Penning said he would write to Attorney General Jeremy Wright to look at the possibility of appealing what he called a ‘lenient’ sentence.
In his ministerial capacity, Mr Penning also said he was looking at increasing the number of cases that can be requested to be appealed by MPs, as the process is currently quite restricted.
He said: “I will write to the Attorney General to ask about the leniency of this sentence.
“This sort of offence, in my opinion, should be a custodial sentence.
“I don’t think the public will understand why the judge has postponed the custodial sentence and let him back into the community. It is quite worrying.”
Police were unable to provide a photograph of Leyman or comment on his sentence, but a spokesman for the Herts force moved to reassure the public, saying: “Offenders who are given a sexual offences protection order are subject to rigorous monitoring by police.
“This is handled by officers and staff working on a specialist unit who manage robustly the risk to reduce reoffending.
“Any breaches are dealt with swiftly and in accordance with legal guidelines. Criminal justice partners in Hertfordshire have a positive track record in the management of offenders in our community and constant monitoring takes place.”
Mr Penning has since spoken with the Solicitor-General and Secretary of State for Justice Chris Grayling about the issue, and both have advised him to continue with his request to the Attorney General. The MP added there are ‘serious questions’ to be answered.
This is not the first time Mr Penning, himself the current minister for policing, criminal justice and victims, has asked for a sentence to be reviewed, as he has taken on previous court decisions on murder and sexual assault cases in his constituency.