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Andrew Larkins of Norwich handed suspended sentence for child sex doll and child pornography offences

PUBLISHED: 17:17 25 August 2017 | UPDATED: 17:17 25 August 2017

Norwich Crown Court. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Norwich Crown Court. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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A Norwich man who was caught importing an obscene child-like doll has been given suspended prison sentence at Norwich Crown Court.

Andrew Larkins, 37, of Russell Street, today (Friday, August 25) admitted four counts of making indecent images of children, one count of improper importation of indecent/obscene articles and one count of possession extreme pornographic images.

The conviction, the first of its kind in Norwich, was the result of a seizure made at Stansted Airport in September last year.

The doll had been shipped from China via Hong Kong, with accompanying paperwork describing it as a fashion mannequin.

Judge Katharine Moore sentenced Larkins to 24 months imprisonment, suspended for 21 months, placed on the Sex Offenders Register for 10 years and given a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for 10 years. She also ordered the doll and images to be destroyed.

Detective Inspector Chris Burgess from the constabulary’s criminal investigation department said: “This conviction is the first of its kind in Norfolk but unfortunately it won’t be the last. This case demonstrates how partner agencies can work together to identify people committing these offences and bring them to justice.”

A spokesman from the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty (NSPCC) said there was no evidence to support the idea, as some have claimed, that sex dolls helped prevent offences against real children, and called for them to be banned.

The spokesman said: “In fact, there is a risk that those using these child sex dolls or realistic props could become desensitised and their behaviour becomes normalised to them, so that they go on to harm children themselves, as is often the case with those who view indecent images.

“The NSPCC is calling on government to take action to criminalise the manufacturing, distribution and possession of these grotesque dolls, in the same way it does indecent images of children.

“And until this loophole is closed, online retailers who have these items available to purchase should immediately remove them from sale.”

Hazel Stewart, from the National Crime Agency (NCA) Child Exploitation Online Protection Command Specialist Operations Team, said: “The NCA and Border Force co-ordinate law enforcement activity, carrying out intelligence checks and offering specialist advice every time these items are seized at the border.

“We know that they can be an indicator of other offences against children, as it was in this case.

“While the importation of obscene dolls like this is a relatively new development, it is one that we and our law enforcement partners are watching closely.

“Those who attempt to import obscene items like these dolls can expect a knock at their door.”

At Stansted, Border Force and National Crime Agency officers from the Fast Parcels Joint Border Intelligence Unit identified Larkins as having attempted to import an obscene doll intended to represent a child aged under seven years of age.

The unit informed Norfolk Police and Larkins was arrested. After his arrest he was also found to be in possession of hundreds of indecent videos and images of children, and extreme pornography.

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