‘Abhorrent’ paedophile Paul Buckland latest cowardly criminal to refuse to face sentencing in court

Paul Buckland refused to attend court for his sentencing
Paul Buckland refused to attend court for his sentencing

A paedophile has become the latest cowardly criminal to choose not to face sentencing in court as he refused to leave his prison cell. Paul Buckland, who committed a string of offences, decided not to attend his sentencing in person, with his decision being described as an ‘aggravating factor’.

Buckland was jailed for 20 years and his refusal to leave his cell comes amid mounting outrage over criminals refusing to ‘face justice’ when they are sentenced. The UK’s most prolific child serial killer, Lucy Letby, did not attend court last month to be sentenced for murdering seven babies and attempting to murder six more.

Earlier this year, Thomas Cashman refused to turn up for his sentencing for the murder of nine-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel in Liverpool. Both killers were jailed in their absence, but their refusal to face the families of their victims sparked a nationwide outcry.

The outrage led the Ministry of Justice to last week announce planned legislation to make defendants attend sentencing hearings, including by force if needed. Wiltshire Police said Buckland, 35, of Plymouth, was found guilty of a string of sexual offences after a trial.

They were: two counts of rape of a child under 13; two of attempted rape of a child under 13; two of sexual assault of a child under 13; one count of engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child; two of causing a child to watch a sexual act.

He was sentenced at Winchester Crown Court on Friday but refused to attend. Police said this was considered an aggravating factor in his sentencing.

The offences were committed more than 10 years ago while Buckland was living in Tidworth, but reported to Wiltshire Police in 2020. Buckland was subsequently arrested and charged.

He pleaded not guilty to the offences, but was convicted in a trial which culminated on June 30.

Speaking after sentencing, detective constable Louise Thomas, said: “Buckland is an abhorrent individual who committed unspeakable acts to, and in the presence of, a child.

“Actions such as his have long-lasting and traumatic effects on their victims, which can manifest in myriad ways. I’d like to commend the victim in speaking to us about her experiences – I understand how difficult it must have been for her and I hope that this sentence can bring some sort of relief, knowing Buckland is behind bars.

“This incident took place more than a decade ago but didn’t come to light until 2020 when it was bravely reported to us by the victim and her family."