Published: 10:00, 07 July 2015
A former Army officer who has twice been jailed for possessing “depraved” child sex abuse images could avoid being locked up again - because his pacemaker may not work in jail.
Phillip Dutfield was due to be sentenced yesterday for breaching orders relating to the offences.
But a judge was told the 61-year-old grandfather’s defibrillator for a heart condition relied on WiFi to function properly, and it may not be available in prison.
The situation led Judge Jeremy Carey to remark at Maidstone Crown Court: “It is a unique case in my experience. It may well become commonplace.”
Tom Dunn, defending, explained that Dutfield’s pacemaker was “picked up” by an NHS server which managed it.
“It is not known whether it is capable of functioning in a custodial setting,” he said. “The inquiry was addressed to the NHS rather than Elmley Prison. A doctor has not addressed it one way or the other.
“One can imagine all sorts of impediments to it functioning in a custodial setting. No doubt there are safeguards in place to prevent that happening for many reasons.”
Mr Dunn added: He may be put at risk in a custodial setting.”
Dutfield, of Garden Street, Gillingham, was jailed for six months in January 2006 after the images were found on his computer.
Then in April 2010 he was sentenced to a further 16 months for possessing indecent pictures of children and extreme pornography of bestiality on mobile phones and a memory stick.
He had further breached the terms of a sexual offences prevention order (SOPO) by owning a laptop computer capable of accessing the internet, a digital camera, memory stick and two mobile phones.
The latest breach involves him using a computer capable of accessing the internet at the University of Kent at Chatham Maritime, where he had enrolled, between September 2012 and November 2013 and having unsupervised contact with a young girl in July last year.
He denied committing a similar offence involving a young boy and the charge will be left on the court file.
“It is a unique case in my experience" - Judge Jeremy Carey
The judge was told at an earlier hearing that Dutfield took drugs every day for his heart condition.
He was working as an administrator at a home for people with learning difficulties when arrested in November 2004.
He admitted downloading all kinds of material “because I have a morbid interest in my world”.
Judge Carey agreed to adjourn sentence until August 3 so that the situation with WiFi in prison could be investigated.
“I think I must allow this,” he said.