A Navy veteran who was jailed for 15 years for sordid sex attacks on a little boy has had an appeal against his convictions rejected by senior judges.
Michael Thomas Hilton, 43, was convicted at Derby Crown Court in September last year for rape, sexual activity with a child and having indecent images of children.
Hilton, formerly of Glen Road, Matlock, continues to deny the offences and took his case to the Court of Appeal in a bid to clear his name.
After considering the judgment, Lord Justice Christopher Pitchford dismissed the appeal.
However, the judge, who heard the appeal with Mrs Justice Dobbs and Judge Francis Gilbert QC, slashed Hilton’s 15–year sentence to 13 years.
“We accept the submission that these offences did not reach the seriousness of multiple offences of rape,” he said. “In our judgment, a sentence of 13 years’ imprisonment would have been adequate to reflect the seriousness of the appellant’s offending.”
The court heard Hilton, a former nuclear submarine sonar operator, was accused of orally raping a very young child and possessing a batch of child porn.
At the Court of Appeal, his barrister, Jonathan Goldberg QC, said the trial judge had misdirected the jury on the effect of evidence of the boy’s complaints and failed to properly caution them about the care needed when considering the evidence of a child so young.
The judge had failed to instruct the jury about the effect of delay in the case coming to trial and failed to warn them properly against holding Hilton’s interest in adult porn against him.
The barrister also criticised Hilton’s legal representation at the trial, alleging that his defence case was not ‘vigorously placed’ before the jury, and pointed to potential deficiencies in interviewing of the victim.
Lord Justice Pitchford said: “We have found no grounds, either singly or cumulatively, for doubting the safety of the jury’s verdicts.”