Shock collapse of trial after mix-up over two sex dolls

Andrew Ward, 42, of Holbury Drove, Holbury - but known to have lived in Gosport - admitted making thousands of child abuse images. He no longer faces being prosecuted for importing an alleged child sex doll after a judge stayed the prosecution at Portsmouth Crown Court.
Andrew Ward, 42, of Holbury Drove, Holbury - but known to have lived in Gosport - admitted making thousands of child abuse images. He no longer faces being prosecuted for importing an alleged child sex doll after a judge stayed the prosecution at Portsmouth Crown Court.
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A TRIAL of a man accused of importing a child sex doll has collapsed over confusion about a second doll he bought online.

Portsmouth Crown Court heard border control agents seized a one metre tall flat-chested doll at Heathrow Airport after Andrew Ward purchased it on a website form Japan.

When that did not arrive at his home he ordered a second one, this time with 'exaggerated breasts,' the court was told.

That doll and at least 46,000 child abuse images were discovered by officers from Hampshire police's internet child abuse investigation team who raided his home.

Prosecutor Jeremy Wright told the court Ward had bought the seized doll, advertised as '120cm... love dolls. Japan metal skeleton... adult small breasts not inflatable sex doll'.

Mr Wright said: 'On May 22 the package, which was intercepted, contained a child sex doll with either flat or no breasts at all.

'When the defendant found that the delivery of his doll was delayed he ordered a further doll and that's the doll with large breasts.

'As a result of the investigation the indecent images were discovered at Mr Ward's home.

'He has been charged and indicted throughout on the indecent images and the seized child sex doll opened by border control officers on the 22nd.'

Ward was charged with importing an obscene article – the flat-chested sex doll. He denied the charge.

But confusion broke out when Mr Wright wrote to the 42-year-old former Gosport man's legal defence team detailing the crown was putting its prosecution on the basis of the large-breasted doll.

Sarah Jones, defending, detailed Ward’s denials in a defence case statement – and in that document questioned why prosecutors were targeting the doll with adult features.

But prosecutors failed to reply, the court heard, and while Ward admitted 12 charges of making child abuse images on the first morning of his doomed trial last Monday, a judge ruled it was not 'fair' for the Crown Prosecution Service to pursue the sex doll allegation.

Ward's defence barrister told the judge a defence expert on development had been called off after the prosecutor's mistaken note about the case had been received. 

Refusing to adjourn the case and staying the charge, judge David Melville QC said: 'It's not just, it's not fair that the defendant should await a trial at a distant date.

'He's waited since he's known he was going to be prosecuted from February, if not before.

'To re-fix this hearing in the future about whether, it has to be said, a doll, is obscene or not (is not just).'

Ms Jones said: 'To say on the day of the trial "we're not going for that doll, we're going for that doll" is not fair and I don't think that's the way this prosecution should proceed.'

The court heard judge Melville would have needed to rule whether or not the doll was capable of being obscene before a jury could take on the case.

Ward, of Holbury Drove, Holbury, will be sentenced on September 21 over the 12 images charges.