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Home » News » Crime

July 18. 2013 8:51PM

Chester man waives gun case, awaits sentencing for sexual assault, sex abuse images


Gary Britton, 60, appears in Rockingham County Superior Court during his trial on sexual assault charges in May. (JAMES A. KIMBLE/FILE PHOTO)

BRENTWOOD — A Chester man convicted of sexually assaulting a young girl and possessing child pornography gave up his right to trial on a gun possession case Thursday to preserve his right to appeal a judge’s decision that the 2011 search of his apartment was legal.

Judge N. William Delker found Gary Britton, 60, of Chester guilty on the felon in possession charge and agreed to adopt a suspended two- to four-year prison term recommended by prosecutors.

Britton is now awaiting a sentencing date on the other two cases, which could essentially send him to state prison for the rest of his life.

He was convicted by a jury in May of aggravated felonious sexual assault. He sexually abused a girl for four years on a regular basis starting in 1991 when she was 9.

A week after being convicted in that case, he pleaded guilty to 10 counts of possession of child sexual abuse images for images found on his computer. He also pleaded guilty in September to failing to register as a sex offender.

The cases all stem from the Sept. 22, 2011, search of Britton’s apartment by Chester police.

Police obtained a search warrant after Britton’s landlord evicted him. The landlord turned on Britton’s computer and found an image of child pornography in plain sight, prompting him to call police.

The forensic examination of the computer turned up more child pornography and online chats about the sexual assaults, which were never disclosed by the victim.

Public defenders maintained that the search violated Britton’s constitutional rights and went beyond the scope of permission granted to police.

Police found a handgun in a sealed plastic bag while executing a warrant approved to search for child pornography.

Delker said police were not at fault for stumbling across another crime during the search.

Britton was restricted by law from possessing a firearm because of a 1983 conviction for aggravated felonious sexual assault.

He now faces up to 20 to 40 years in state prison for two of his latest sexual assault convictions, which are enhanced penalties due to the 1983 sexual assault case.

The 10 convictions for possession of child sexual abuse images are each punishable by 7 ½- to 15-year prison sentences.

Delker said at a hearing Thursday that the sentencing hearing will happen sometime before Sept. 30 once a pre-sentence investigation is completed.

jkimble@newstote.com


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