By John Hawkins

A DISTRICT judge has hit out at delays in the police and justice system after hearing it has taken to two years to get a 16 year old Stroud youth's case to court – meaning he is now old enough to be named, shamed and sentenced as an adult.

At Cheltenham Magistrates Court District yesterday (July 28) Judge Joti Bopa Rai said: “Had he appeared in a timely fashion he would have kept his anonymity and been sentenced as a 16-year-old youth.

“But today he stands before me as an 18-year-old man on offences of possessing indecent images of a child.”

She said despite the fact he is now an adult she intended to treat him as if he were still a juvenile - and she asked the media to do the same.

The teenager pleaded guilty to having one Category A indecent image and 72 Category A videos on his phone. He also admitted having one Category B image and four Category C indecent images of a child.

Tim Burrows, defending, said: “It is grossly unfair that an offence committed two years ago is only now coming before the courts although he made full admission when he was interviewed by police.”

Prosecutor Sue Gethin told the court that police received intelligence that indecent images had been downloaded to the defendant’s address on June 26, 2018 but they did not act on the information until 11 months later on May 29, 2019.

Judge Bopa Rai said: “We are in an unfortunate position because the police failed to get their act together in time for him to be sentenced as a youth.

“Had he committed this crime at the age he is now then he would be looking at a custodial sentence.

“I can’t punish him as an adult as the time delay was not his fault. I am treating him as a youth and therefore I am sentencing him as a youth and I would ask the press to do the same.”

The 18-year-old was fined £25 and ordered to complete a two year community order which includes 30 rehabilitation activity requirement days.

He was also ordered to pay court costs of £85 and a victim surcharge of £85.

The judge ordered the forfeiture of the mobile phone.