Former police officer and scout leader from March has child sex offences sentencing adjourned to January

PUBLISHED: 15:55 13 December 2019 | UPDATED: 16:02 13 December 2019

Former March police officer and scout leader Phillip Richardson, who admitted downloading and distributing child sex abuse images, will be sentenced in the New Year. Picture: TERRY HARRIS

Former March police officer and scout leader Phillip Richardson, who admitted downloading and distributing child sex abuse images, will be sentenced in the New Year. Picture: TERRY HARRIS

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A former March police officer and scout leader who admitted downloading and distributing child sex abuse images and was due to be sentenced today (December 13) turned up to court without a lawyer.

Former March police officer and scout leader Phillip Richardson, who admitted downloading and distributing child sex abuse images, will be sentenced in the New Year. Picture: TERRY HARRIS
Former March police officer and scout leader Phillip Richardson, who admitted downloading and distributing child sex abuse images, will be sentenced in the New Year. Picture: TERRY HARRIS

Phillip Richardson - who has changed his name to John Nicholls - was due to be sentenced at St Alban's Crown Court today (Friday December 13).

The 49-year-old former PC, who was based at March Police Station, was intending to represent himself at the hearing.

But he agreed to judge Nigel Lithman QC's suggestion that he gets a lawyer.

Former March police officer and scout leader Phillip Richardson, who admitted downloading and distributing child sex abuse images, will be sentenced in the New Year. Picture: TERRY HARRIS
Former March police officer and scout leader Phillip Richardson, who admitted downloading and distributing child sex abuse images, will be sentenced in the New Year. Picture: TERRY HARRIS

The judge told him: "These matters are not trivial. There is a prospect they might end in a custodial sentence."

Nicholls, a married man who now lives in Doncaster, said that he was prepared for the case to be adjourned.

Prosecutor Karl Volz said: "The defendant was a serving police officer with Cambridgeshire constabulary."

Former March police officer and scout leader Phillip Richardson, who admitted downloading and distributing child sex abuse images, will be sentenced in the New Year. Picture: TERRY HARRIS
Former March police officer and scout leader Phillip Richardson, who admitted downloading and distributing child sex abuse images, will be sentenced in the New Year. Picture: TERRY HARRIS

He had pleaded guilty to three charges of making (downloading) indecent photograph/pseudo photographs of a child and two of distributing indecent photographs/pseudo photographs of a child.

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Nicholls, who had been a beat bobby and the Fenland licensing officer, was arrested in May and dismissed by Cambridgeshire police on July 3.

He had also been a scout leader for 27 years.

"It must be a massive - almost unimaginable - nightmare to his family," said a parent who was told of Richardson's arrest shortly after it happened.

"It will have absolutely devastated family members including the children who will almost be certain to be in trauma and feeling isolated and numb while they try to make sense of it all."

Eight years ago PC Richardson told the county council ShapeYourPlace community website that people should keep their "eyes and ears open" in a bid to catch offenders.

"Let's make March a dangerous place for the criminals," he said. "I love locking them up, the more I can get them off the streets the better the chances of me having a smiley photo."

In 2010 the Cambs Times covered Richardson's wedding after he and his bride had said they wanted as many friends and family as possible to feel included in the ceremony.

The bride's attendants included representatives of March Marlins Swimming Club, Fenland Music Centre and cubs from the 2nd March Saxons as they walked down the aisle of Trinity Church, March.

The judge adjourned sentencing until January 21.


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