Witches coven child abuser ‘is not a danger’ - court

From the appeal court
From the appeal court

A Scottish paedophile who used a twisted “initiation ceremony” into a witches’ coven to abuse a 12-year-old boy in Morecambe has managed to convince top judges he is not a danger to society.

Charles Mark Stewart, 32, now of Hunter Street, Airdrie, Lanarkshire, left his victim “severely affected” after sexually molesting him in a black magic ritual.

Stewart was handed an eight-year extended sentence - made up of six years jail and two more on licence in the community - after he was convicted of five counts of indecent assault at Preston Crown Court in December, last year.

But top judges at London’s Criminal Appeal Court today upheld a challenge by Stewart against his punishment, accepting his lawyers arguments that he had wrongly been condemned as a dangerous offender.

His sentence was replaced by a standard six-year term, of which he will serve just half before qualifying for automatic release. Sir David Maddison said Stewart, then about 19, lured the victim into an “initiation ceremony” that he said would grant him entry to a “witches’ coven”.

“He told the victim he had to be naked for the purposes of this ceremony,” added the judge.

After the boy undressed, Stewart made him lie down on a bed and began abusing him, The boy gave evidence that he felt “in pain, frightened and nervous”, the court heard.

Later, Stewart told the boy he was no longer involved in witchcraft but insisted they were “in a relationship”

Allowing the appeal, Sir David, sitting with Lord Justice Elias and Mr Justice Supperstone, said: “In our view, a determinate sentence should have been imposed.”

“This was not a case where there was a significant risk - we would underline the word ‘significant’ - of harm to the public caused by the commission of further specified offences by Stewart.

“Accordingly, this appeal is allowed.”