Elderly paedophile posed as teenager

DAVID CLARKSON
Last updated 17:06 21/02/2013

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The Crown wants an open-ended preventive detention jail term for a 73-year-old Christchurch paedophile.

The call has meant five weeks delay for the sentencing of Dennis John Batchelor, of Belfast, on eight charges involving young girls.

They include sexual violation, rape, unlawful sexual connection, and indecent assault.

Batchelor is already in prison serving a three-year jail term he received on November 1 after admitting 30 charges of possessing, making, or copying objectionable publications.

Batchelor had masqueraded as a teenage girl on Facebook, and had files showing another teenage girl doing indecent acts on a webcam.

Since then, charges involving other child complainants dating from 1998 to 2003 have mounted up against him in the Christchurch District Court and he has again pleaded guilty.

Judge Michael Crosbie was due to sentence him today, but put the sentencing off after the Crown's call for preventive detention to be considered.

He ordered the two health assessors' reports to be prepared to assess Batchelor's risk of reoffending, and set March 28 for his next appearance.

On that date, Judge Crosbie will either decline jurisdiction and send him to the High Court for preventive detention to be considered, or will sentence him in the District Court.

The decision rests on the contents of the psychological and psychiatric reports.

Judge Crosbie told defence counsel Paul Norcross that the decision was "finely balanced" because of Batchelor's age and the historic nature of the offending.

"The issue of his age and the appropriate assessment of risk from a psychologist is an important one in determining whether he should be sentenced in this court or the High Court," said the judge.

Batchelor is a serving prisoner and remains in custody.

The victims are not related to him.

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