Joshua Crockwell *Photo by WENN / Splash News
Joshua Crockwell *Photo by WENN / Splash News

WEDNESDAY, MAY 23: Prosecutors are to appeal a suspended jail sentence for a firefighter convicted of sexually exploiting a young girl.

Director of Public Prosecutions Rory Field confirmed that an appeal had been lodged against the sentence imposed on 22-year-old Joshua Crockwell for offences involving a 12-year-old child.

The news was welcomed last night by children’s rights campaigner Sheelagh Cooper of the Coalition for the Protection of Children. She said: “This sends a message that the Crown is unhappy with the sentence — it remains to be seen how the case progresses and what the final result will be. One can only hope there is a decision which more accurately reflects the seriousness of the offence.”

A row erupted after Crockwell was earlier this month handed a 15 month sentence, suspended for two years, by Magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo.

Mr Tokunbo told the accused, who was found guilty of trying to get the girl to perform a sex act on him two years ago after an earlier trial: “I think it was a learning experience for you. By all indications, you were otherwise a decent young man. I don’t think you preyed on her as such. You were old enough to understand she was off limits.”

Mr Tokunbo also refused to accept a victim impact statement from the prosecution, saying it had been presented to0 late in the proceedings.

Mr Field declined to comment on whether that aspect of the case would form part of the appeal.

After the verdict, an online petition calling for Mr Tokunbo to be removed from the bench was also set up.

Ms Cooper said: “An appeal is a good decision... and I’m sure the family will be relieved. The Coalition is in touch with them and offering support.

“The sentence was no kind of deterrent and the message was that it’s open season on young girls...”

The girl — who had to go through the ordeal of giving evidence due to Crockwell’s not guilty plea – cannot be named for legal reasons.

In other jurisdictions, discounted sentences are sometimes given in return for guilty pleas, which avoid victims having to give evidence. But — if a victim does have to appear in court and the defendant is found guilty – sentences are usually higher.