THE sentencing of a 71-year-old Cheshire paedophile had to be adjourned at Chester Crown Court – as police had failed to provide evidence describing a prohibited image.

Gordon Spencer Aspden, of Bates Lane, Helsby, appeared at Chester Crown Court on Friday, January 8, after previously admitting owning indecent and prohibited images of children.

Claire Jones, prosecuting, said the 37 indecent images included four in the most serious category – category A – which police said included children aged between three and five being spanked on their bare bottom with a wooden bat.

But no description had been supplied for the 10 prohibited images of children.

Judge Patrick Thompson expressed frustration and said he was unable to sentence the case without that evidence as he did not know the level of seriousness the prohibited images were.

He said: "Police have had all the time in the world to present that evidence. There is no excuse at all.

"It is not just this case, and I don't know if the police are taking it seriously enough. I think the public would take the view it was very serious.

"I am not sentencing him when I don't know what he has done. It's just absolutely appalling that the prosecution cannot tell me what it is. I am very unhappy about it.

"It's not rocket science. I can't just pick a [sentencing] figure out of the air."

Earlier, Ms Jones said police had executed a search warrant on Aspden's home address on June 26, 2018 and recovered three digital devices.

Images were found on an HP Tower unit, a laptop and a Pen drive.

There were four category A indecent images found, one category B image of a girl aged between eight and 10, and 32 category C images including naked girls aged five to six years old, as well as the 10 prohibited images.

The images were said to date back to 2010.

Aspden's internet history was checked and there were searches to knickers to purchase.

When interviewed by police, Aspden denied looking for indecent images, saying he was simply searching for "spanking".

He admitted buying underwear at charity shops and performing sex acts involving them.

He had "suggested it was an addiction".

He did not believe that prohibited images or images of children being spanked were illegal.

However, when Aspden appeared at Chester Magistrates Court on December 11, 2020, he pleaded guilty at the first opportunity to all charges.

The court heard Aspden was a man with no previous convictions or cautions.

Judge Thompson adjourned sentencing to Monday, January 18, at Chester Crown Court, for police to provide evidence in relation to the prohibited images and an explanation why the evidence had not been originally included.

Aspden was released on bail until that date, to comply with the terms of the draft Sexual Harm Prevention Order which include restrictions on his computer usage.

Judge Thompson warned him all sentencing options remained open, including prison.