A PERVERT with ‘an inappropriate sexual interest in teenage boys’ has been banned from all public swimming baths and leisure centres.
But Christopher Eaton narrowly escaped being jailed after performing a sex act in front of a 14-year-old boy in the changing room showers at Stratford swimming pool.
The 55 year-old of Meldrum Court, Temple Herdewyke, near Southam, had denied a charge of sexual activity in the presence of a child, but changed his plea to guilty on the day of his trial at Warwick Crown Court.
And following an adjournment for a pre-sentence report on him, he escaped the prison sentence he richly deserved and was given a three-year community sentence.
Eaton will be under supervision for three years and was ordered to take part in a three-year sex offenders’ programme, to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work, to pay £1,500 costs and to register as a sex offender for five years.
Judge Philip Gregory also made a sexual harm prevention order under which, among other restrictions, Eaton is banned indefinitely from entering or seeking to enter any public swimming pool or leisure centre.
Prosecutor Daniel Oscroft said in May last year a 14-year-old boy went to Stratford baths with his grandmother.
While he was getting ready Eaton came into the changing room from the pool and began talking to him and staring at him.
Trying to ignore him, the boy went for his swim, but was followed by Eaton when he then went into the sauna.
While they were in there, Eaton put his hands down his own swimming shorts and asked the boy to go into the steam room with him.
The teenager refused and went back to the changing room – followed by Eaton. Seeing a family in the changing room as well, the boy thought he would be safe and went into the communal shower.
But Eaton followed, removed his trunks and began performing a sex act on himself while making comments about the boy’s figure.
The youngster fled to tell his grandmother what had happened, and she informed the duty manager who contacted the police.
When he was arrested Eaton accepted they had both been in the sauna and that he had been naked in the shower – but denied anything sexual had taken place.
Mr Oscroft said although Eaton had no relevant convictions ‘in this jurisdiction,’ he was convicted in Northern Ireland in 2000 of purchasing intoxicating liquor for minors.
Marcus Hart, defending, said although Eaton, a French polisher with his own business, expected to go to prison, there were a number of options including the community order with a sex offenders’ treatment programme recommended in the pre-sentence report.
Sentencing Eaton, Judge Gregory told him: “You plainly have an inappropriate sexual interest in teenage boys.
“You could not complain if I were to make an order today sending you straight to jail.
“But were I to pass a custodial sentence you would be released within a few months and would not have addressed your sexual interests at all. The longer-term benefit for society is for you to do just that.
“You will be required to complete this order properly. If you fail in any of these respects, you will be brought back before the court and I will send you to jail, which you richly deserve.”