A disgraced former academic and businessman has avoided jail after he imported a child-like latex sex doll from China.
Malcolm Young, described in court as “intelligent” and having had a pro-vice-chancellor role at Newcastle University, had denied the offence and told jurors he bought the replica because it looked like a former adult partner.
But the 61-year-old, who has experience of working in high-tech industries, was convicted following a trial, and was sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court on Friday for trying to import the doll and for four indecent image offences relating to photos of children found on his computers.
Judge Stephen Earl sentenced him to 18 months in jail, suspended for two years, ordered him to carry out rehabilitation and subjected him to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order.
Young must also pay £9,480 prosecution costs.
Police were alerted in June 2017 after a Border Force officer found the 90cm latex doll in a parcel brought into the country from China via Holland, the court heard.
He received a refund for his 750 US dollar (£550) purchase from the online vendor when it was not delivered – after it had been seized by customs, the court was told.
Graham O’Sullivan, prosecuting, said the doll had the “physical likeness of a child” and came with openings in the vagina and anus.
The parcel also contained a wig, clothes and other accessories.
That led Northumbria Police to his home in East Woodburn, Northumberland, where electronic equipment was seized and indecent images, including one of the worst category, were discovered.
After his arrest he resigned from his public positions, Christopher Knox, defending, said.
His barrister added: “He has a very successful career which has been totally destroyed.”
Young lived on his boat in Spain after his arrest, Mr Knox said.
He added: “The reality is he is not able to work in any of the tech industries in which he has made his name.”
Judge Stephen Earl, sentencing, said: “I have been taken to a significant amount of material including just how intelligent he is, and was, in terms of his chancellorship of the University of Newcastle, and his business experience.”
The judge also said: “His fall from grace is long and hard.”
Handing down a suspended sentence, the judge said he felt there was a “realistic prospect”, given the defendant’s background and the nature of his offending, that he could be “fully rehabilitated in the future”.
After he was convicted in July, Northumbria Police said: “Young thought he was above the law.
“He has taken no responsibility for his crimes and we are glad the jury saw through the preposterous account he gave to the court.”
A Newcastle University spokeswoman said: “Professor Malcolm Young has not been employed by the university since 2009.”