The criminal justice system always has to deal with all sorts of demented scenarios and bizarre situations on a routine basis.

From serial killers to abusive parents, to terrorists and sex offenders, courts are scenarios for a non-stop show of the worst of humanity.

Still, now and then, a case is so strange and so absolutely bizarre that it makes it to the newspaper headlines.

This, the issue of Bryan Anthony Bowen, a pedophile man with dwarfism who was not sent to jail on account of his stature, is one example.

In November of 2017, the case came to the attention of British newspapers that Bowen, twenty-six at the time and responsible for harassing and soliciting sex two underage girls (one of sixteen years of age, the other of thirteen), had been spared prison by the judge due to his height.

Keep on reading to find more about the what and why of probably one of the craziest stories of the late 2010s.


10 /10 An Unstable Person

Bryan Anthony Bowen was born in Welshpool, Powys, Wales, in 1991. He is a person with dwarfism, learning disabilities, and a general strain of antisocial behavior often described as “immature” and unable to adapt to everyday circumstances.

Although he hadn’t had any previous criminal convictions or reports of past illegal activity, it’s clear that what he did came from his overall “normal” personality and not from any particular circumstances at the time.

9 /10 The Crimes

And the time was 2015. Bowen’s prosecutor, attorney Anna Price, explained that during that year, Bowen sent an online message to a fifteen-year-old: “Do you want to f-ck?”

Not satisfied with the girl blocking him and not responding, he again contacted her for her sixteenth birthday, with another disgusting message: “I will f-ck you for your birthday present.” To make things worse, he also wrote notes of a similar tone to a thirteen-year-old, to whom she asked if she had a boyfriend.


8 /10 A World Of Fantasy

Finally denounced in 2017, caught and tried, the judge found Bowen more than just a regular sex offender and pedophile.

Commenting on his motivations, he observed that Bowen “was trying to live in a world of fantasy” and that he was “emotionally inadequate.”

In short, it was impossible for the justice system to make Bowen understand (let’s remember that he has learning disabilities) the severity of his crimes, as well as to rehabilitate him as much as possible (per the usual goals of the British criminal system, which are restorative: to bring as much as possible everyone’s state to normalcy, both the victim’s and the victimizer’s).

7 /10 The Judge's Sentence

Still, the judge’s sentence caused much surprise. Deeming him too small to go to prison and said that he would have “a very hard time” there, he received a 48-week prison sentence that the judge nevertheless postponed for two years.

In the meantime, Bowen received a legal order to attend rehabilitation and counseling especially designed for people with reduced learning capabilities, a three-month curfew between 9:00 PM and 7:00 AM, a 10-year sexual harm prevention order was placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register.


6 /10 Bowen, Now

After this, Bowen won’t have contact or live with children or minors for the following ten years. If he fulfills his rehabilitation goals and is not caught in any further offenses, he might be spared from jail altogether.

Since by this year, 2021, not much else has been heard of him, it can be safe to assume that he has done so and that the case of this pedophile dwarf ended up with him effectively avoiding prison due to his short stature.


5 /10 Motives For A Criminal

It has been repeatedly questioned what exactly were the motivations behind Bowen’s actions, who at first claimed to have not to know the age of the girls he contacted.

Even though the bases were in principle sexual, the underlying causes for this sexual expression of his fantasies have been placed, by psychiatrists commenting on the case, in a deep sense of inadequacy.

This “world of fantasy” that he wanted to live in was one, fundamentally, in which he was an attractive man, with whom women wanted to have sex with: this was enough, combined with an amoral personality, to drive his actions to crime.


4 /10 Legal Precedents

This wasn’t the first time that a person with dwarfism was spared from jail in the UK because of their stature, though.

Earlier in the past decade (in 2011), Pele Watson, a 3ft 9 man, was spared prison for drug dealing, which could have amounted to two and a half years behind bars.

Instead, he received a supervision period of twelve months and was ordered to attend a six-month drug rehabilitation program.

This was done with the express intention of preventing him from losing his home and the unclear circumstances of his arrest.

3 /10 Pele Watson's Arrest

Watson’s arrest took place when an undercover police officer (by the codename “Jazz”) conducted an east London operation.

He approached Watson and one of his friends, Danny Grant, and asked if he could buy heroin.

Eventually, the two men procured some cocaine for him, but never clearly stated that they were selling it, and in fact, asked him to share it with them once Watson came back with it.

This would later be used as evidence in court to sustain the claim that they weren’t drug dealers, just drug users.

2 /10 A Second Chance

Like in Bowen’s case, Watson, being spared from jail, was attributed to an attempt to give him a chance to reform his life by preventing him from being abused or killed in prison.

Furthermore, Watson’s defendant stated in court: “He is diagnosed as suffering with paranoid schizophrenia and depression, for which he takes a cocktail of prescribed medications. If he were given an immediate custodial sentence it’s likely he would lose his home, which is being refurbished in order to meet his physical needs.”

As with Bowen, the lack of further news suggests that Watson has been keeping out of trouble recently.

1 /10 Public Debate

In general, cases like these have often incensed the public due to judges appearing “too lenient” on criminals or other people who are involved in illegal activities.

The judges and the defenders of their sentences support the view that it not only is improper to seek punishment instead of restoration and rehabilitation but that also, in these cases, the people with dwarfism are unable, in general, of being as damaging or as dangerous to others as regular-bodied criminals.

Be as it may, the debate rages on, and given the current precedents, it’s always likely that future cases like these will reignite it.

For many, indeed, the idea of having criminals at large because they were spared from prison on account of their size is no small feat.

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