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The pervert who wanted a court to allow him to travel to a country with a lower age of consent

Jason Leonard was asked by police what age is too young for sexual activity - he replied ‘if a child is old enough to talk it’s old enough to have sex’

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Jason Leonard leaving court

A convicted pervert who a court heard wants to travel to other countries to have sex with children has lost an appeal restricting his movements abroad.

Jason Leonard has been described by police bosses at a court hearing as ‘one of the most dangerous’ registered sex offenders in the region.

The 37-year-old brazenly admitted to wanting the freedom to travel to a country where the age of consent is lower so he could form a sexual relationship, the court heard.

Police told the hearing Leonard had told them his ‘ideal’ partner, would be aged between 12 and 14, Burnley Crown Court was told.

A judge heard that Leonard claims paedophiles in the UK are being ‘persecuted’ and likens his treatment by society to that of ‘homosexuals 40 years ago’.

However, after losing a court appeal, he will now only be granted permission to travel abroad if he has written permission from a police chief constable.

Leonard was jailed for 32 months in 2013 after downloading 251 indecent images of children and then sharing them on the internet.

He was given a sexual offences prevention order (SOPO) to monitor his internet use, however Lancashire Police said it was now no longer ‘sufficient to manage his risk’ and were granted a sexual harm prevention order (SHPO) by magistrates in April this year.

The SHPO includes additional measures preventing benefit claimant Leonard from having any unsupervised contact with a child under 16 without express permission of a parent/guardian or social services and does not allow him to travel outside the UK without prior written permission from the chief constable of the area he is living in.

Leonard, from Haslingden, claimed the new order was ‘completely disproportionate’ and made an appeal to Burnley Crown Court to have the SHPO revoked.

Jason Leonard pictured outside court

Detective Constable Andrew Ashworth, who manages more than 90 registered sex offenders in Lancashire, told the Crown Court hearing that Leonard is ‘one of the most dangerous offenders I have met’ and that he posed an ‘exceptional risk’.

He said: “Mr Leonard is unique. In the 10 years performing this role I have never met a sexual offender who quite openly acknowledges his paedophilic tendencies. He is exceptional and has been risked as exceptional.

“Mr Leonard has expressed his desire to leave the country because he believes the police, judiciary and government in this country are persecuting paedophiles.

“He is very vocal and adamant about this persecution.

“He likens it to the persecution of homosexuals 40 years ago.

“He believes that in the fullness of time paedophilia will be accepted in the same way that homosexuality is today.

“He has expressed a desire to move to other European countries. He has talked about the Netherlands, France, Spain and Italy because he believes they have a lower age of consent in the mid to low teens.”

The appeal hearing was told that Leonard watches ‘very child orientated’ adult pornography with ‘models dressed to look like cheerleaders or in school uniforms’.

When DC Ashworth asked Leonard in March this year what age is too young for sexual activity he replied ‘if a child is old enough to talk it’s old enough to have sex’, the court was told, and that when Leonard was asked about his views on rape he replied ‘no comment’.

DC Ashworth added: “[Leonard] has accepted that his mother, who he has a close connection with, is a factor in holding him back as to his sexual lifestyle.

“He has indicated that when she dies, and she is an elderly woman in her 80s, he will go abroad to seek children. For me the only pro-social influence in his life at the moment is his mother and that’s purely because she is alive.”

Stuart Kaufman, representing Leonard, described his client as the ‘Ronseal of paedophiles’ and said the new SHPO restrictions were ‘completely disproportionate’.

He told the court: “Mr Leonard said he would always abide by the laws of whichever country he goes to.

“If the age of consent is say 15 in Thailand then he would abide by that law.

“He is the Ronseal of paedophiles. He does exactly as he says on the tin. There’s nothing on Mr Leonard’s record to suggest he has [had sexual activity] with a child.

“The only thing he has ever done is downloaded child pornography.

“There has been no changes in Mr Leonard’s conduct since the SOPO was made in 2013.

“The court could have made a SHPO then but they didn’t.

“If his mother dies it may change but at the moment it is completely disproportionate.”

Judge Sara Dodd dismissed Leonard’s appeal and said he was ‘deeply disturbed’ with a ‘frankly alarming attitude to paedophilia’.

Speaking after the hearing, DC Ashworth told the Free Press: “I’m pleased with the result.

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“Lancashire Police will continue to manage the risk of any registered sex offender and this was an exceptional and unique case.”