“Underage sex” is a term that can be used to describe 2 children under the age of consent engaged in sexual activity. It can also be used to describe circumstances when an adult engages in sexual behaviour with a minor.
These sorts or cases often attract intense media attention. The stigma of being labelled a “paedophile” destroys lives, and lawyers can come in for intense criticism whilst defending such clients. For Stephen, it’s part of the job a criminal barrister. He defends all clients with equal vigour, irrespective of the nature of the allegations or the notoriety of the client.
Appeal Court decisions in relation to allegations of sexual activity with children
A sentence of 16 months’ imprisonment imposed on a man in his early 20s who had shared indecent images of children with workmates on a building site, but had done so for shock value and had no unhealthy interest in children, was suspended on appeal. An immediate custodial sentence was disproportionate where the possession and distribution had been limited, he had acted out of extreme stupidity, was of previous good character and where his mother was dependent on him financially and as her carer.
A judge had erred in imposing a wasted costs order on a defence barrister after discharging the jury following the barrister’s closing speech. In front of the jury, the barrister had inappropriately criticised the procedure by which questions for young and vulnerable witnesses were formulated in advance, and had also strayed beyond the bounds of appropriate comment in relation to the complainant’s sexual behaviour. However, his comments could have been dealt with in the judge’s summing up and did not call for the discharge of the jury.
Convictions for rape and indecent assault were deemed unsafe where a judge had failed to give a jury clear directions as to whether, and if so how, they could rely on the evidence of each victim when considering the allegations made by the other.
A defendant had received a fair trial in a case concerning historical child sex offences where various pieces of contemporaneous evidence had been lost or destroyed. There was a substantial amount of additional material that could be used to test the reliability and credibility of the complainant, and the judge had given an impeccable direction to the jury to consider whether the defendant had been placed at a real disadvantage when they decided whether the prosecution had satisfied them of his guilt.
There was no general principle that delay, in a criminal trial involving young children, meant that the evidence of that child should always be excluded at a subsequent trial; each case was fact specific. In the instant case, a judge had been entitled to admit a child’s Achieving Best Evidence interview at trial despite the delay of two years and four months since the interview had taken place.
A custodial sentence of 9 years and 6 months and a further probation period of one year imposed on a 91-year-old former monk for historical offences of indecent assault, buggery and attempted buggery was unduly lenient, and was replaced with a custodial term of 12 years.
Where the admission of hearsay evidence of a person who had died was sought under the Criminal Justice Act 2003 s.116(2)(a), in the proviso in s.116(5), that if the circumstances (namely that person’s death) were caused “(a) by the person in support of whose case it is sought to give the statement…” [then the evidence would be inadmissible], “person” meant the defendant or somebody acting on his behalf, not the deceased person.
A grandfather’s convictions for the sexual abuse of his granddaughter were upheld. There was no proper basis for rejecting the granddaughter’s original complaints, which had been detailed in her ABE interview and maintained throughout the trial, and the reliability of a retraction statement she made shortly after sentencing had to be rejected.
Total sentences of six years and nine months’ imprisonment and six years’ imprisonment imposed on a male and female offender respectively following guilty pleas to child sex offences were lenient, but not unduly lenient. The female offender had sent the male offender images of her and her daughter, aged between two and six, engaging in sexual activity. The offending had been rightly categorised in Category 2A of the relevant guideline and the judge’s approach to sentencing was not flawed.
A judge had been entitled to refuse severance of an indictment, meaning that an offender was tried for historic and recent counts of child sexual offences at the same time. The Criminal Procedure Rules 2015 r.3.21(4)(a) had removed the technical barriers to joinder in appropriate cases: where evidence on one count would be properly admissible on the other as evidence of bad character it was hard to argue that the offender would be prejudiced in his defence by having both counts on the same indictment. In the instant case, the recent counts would have been admissible as bad character evidence at the offender’s trial on the historic counts and vice versa.
The terms of a sexual offences prevention order imposed on an offender who had been sentenced for voyeurism, which included an almost blanket ban on using the internet, were changed where its terms did not conform to the guidance given in R. v Smith (Steven)  EWCA Crim 1772 with the result that it was unworkable and disproportionate.
The court upheld a sexual harm prevention order, imposed for an indefinite duration, where an offender had received concurrent suspended prison sentences of 18 months after pleading guilty to three offences of possession of indecent photographs of a child and one offence of possessing an extreme pornographic image. Although the order had been imposed in circumstances which were far from satisfactory because the judge had not given explicit reasons to support the making of an indefinite order, the offender had given no indication whatsoever that he would address his offending behaviour and its causes. An order for an indefinite duration was necessary and proportionate.
A total extended sentence of seven years and six months’ imprisonment for historic offences of attempted buggery, indecency with a child and indecent assault on a man committed by an individual aged 20-25 against his neighbour aged 10-14, whilst lenient, was not unduly so. Although aspects of the judge’s reasoning had been flawed, the offences had very unpleasant features and there had been an element of grooming, no violence had been used.
A sentence of three-and-a-half years’ imprisonment imposed on an offender for historic offences of buggery and indecent assault on a fellow resident at a children’s home was unduly lenient. The offender satisfied the dangerousness criteria and a sentence of five years and ten months’ imprisonment with a three-year extension period was appropriate.
Concurrent sentences of two years’ imprisonment for historic offences of indecent assault and indecency with a child committed against the offender’s sister when he was aged 14-16 were reduced to concurrent one-year sentences. The offender, now over 70, was gravely ill and nearing the end of his life, and the original sentence was, in justice and in mercy, longer than necessary.
A total sentence of 13 years and two months’ imprisonment imposed following a trial of a step-father for four historic sexual offences against his step-daughter was manifestly excessive where the judge had both ordered all sentences to run consecutively, as well as imposing sentences at the higher end of the scale. It was replaced with a sentence of 11 years and two months’ imprisonment.
A judge’s decision to stay a prosecution as an abuse of process on the basis of a failure by the prosecution to properly pursue a line of enquiry when investigating allegations of sexual assault was wrong in principle and did not constitute a reasonable exercise of his discretion.
A 78-year-old man whose extradition to the Falkland Islands was sought in order to prosecute him for 12 alleged historic sexual abuse offences from the mid-1980s was bailed. The unusual features of the case, including the individual’s ill-health and his caring responsibilities, and the fact that he had not offended since completing a sex offenders’ treatment programme in 2002, meant that the risks of him absconding or committing further offences were minimal.
Following the appellant’s retrial for sexual offences, the judge had been correct to impose a special sentence of custody for offenders of particular concern. However, the term imposed, namely a custodial term of 16 years and an extended licence period of one year, contravened the Criminal Appeal Act 1968 Sch.2 para.2(1) because it was “of greater severity” than the 17-year sentence imposed at the original trial. That was because of the release regime applicable to offenders who were subject to a special sentence of custody for offenders of particular concern.
Convictions for sexual offences were safe despite the fact that material about the complainant had not been disclosed to the defence, because the picture of the complainant put before the jury was nevertheless a sufficiently accurate one.
A judge had had insufficient regard to totality when imposing consecutive extended sentences totalling 38 years on a prolific sex offender who had pleaded guilty to committing 137 offences over the course of 10 years. A large number of the offences involved the deliberate targeting of vulnerable children on the internet, persuading them to provide him with naked images of themselves and blackmailing them to provide increasingly graphic and humiliating images of them taking part in degrading acts. An extended sentence of 25 years’ custody, with an extension period of eight years, was substituted for the original sentence.
The court considered issues relating to the impact of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 s.28 and the pre-recorded cross-examination of vulnerable child witnesses, and provided guidance regarding best practice for trial judges and advocates.
It was best practice for a judge to direct a jury before the cross-examination of a vulnerable witness that limitations had been placed on the defence counsel and to explain after the cross-examination the type of issues which the defendant would have wished to explore in further detail. Such directions should be repeated in the summing up.
A claimant failed to show that disclosure on enhanced criminal record certificates of an allegation of sexual assault of which he had been acquitted was disproportionate and inaccurate.
To establish “possession” for the purposes of the offences of possessing indecent images of children or extreme pornographic images, the prosecution had to establish (a) that the images were within the accused’s custody or control so that he was capable of accessing them, and (b) that he had known that he possessed images. Where unsolicited images were sent to the accused by the messaging application “WhatsApp” and automatically downloaded to his phone’s memory, it was highly likely that (a) would be made out; whether (b) was made out would depend on whether he knew he had received images.
While a judge’s summing-up could have been more clearly expressed, it was not confusing, did not advocate the prosecution case and it did not render the trial unfair. Trial judges were reminded of the guidance and draft directions contained in the Crown Court Compendium. Those directions provided judges with an invaluable resource which, when adapted to the facts of a case, provided an appropriate framework for a legally correct direction.
Certain conditions of a sexual harm prevention order imposed on an offender who had committed sexual offences against children, which restricted his use of computers, mobile phones with internet access and remote storage, were quashed as they were disproportionate, unenforceable and did not give effect to the statutory purpose.
The court allowed Romania’s appeal against the grant of bail to a requested person who had been convicted and sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment for sexual offences against an 11-year-old girl whilst working as her dance teacher. The court was satisfied that there were substantial grounds to believe that the requested person would fail to surrender at the extradition hearing.
A judge had not erred when sentencing an offender to life imprisonment, with a minimum term of 10 years, as a sentence of “last resort” for extreme child sex offences committed over a number of years against his own children. The sentence was also not unduly lenient, despite the minimum term not being increased when the offender was sentenced for further offences which involved the same children being offered to other men for sexual purposes.
Evidence of a step-father’s controlling behaviour towards his wife and step-son had been relevant evidence at his trial for 16 sexual offences against his step-daughter, as his defence was that his step-daughter was lying and exaggerating his controlling behaviour and the evidence was relevant to the issue of her credibility. A total sentence of 22 years’ imprisonment was not manifestly excessive.
A judge had not erred in refusing a late application to admit expert evidence as to an appellant’s intellectual ability to assess age at his trial for child sex offences. The assessment of age was not a particularly intellectual process and the appellant’s own evidence had been that he had no difficulty with judging age.
Where an offender had distributed an indecent photograph of a girl under the age of 18 contrary to the Protection of Children Act 1978 s.1(1)(b), but it was unclear if the girl was under 16, a notification requirement should not have been imposed on him. He had not been convicted of an offence listed within the Sexual Offences Act 2003 Sch.3, which was necessary to impose a notification requirement. There was a clear discrepancy between those provisions, and the court would have to be alive to that discrepancy when discharging its duty under the Criminal Procedure Rules and, if necessary, decide whether a child’s exact age could be resolved.
At a fact-finding hearing relating to the death and possible sexual assault of a child, the court highlighted difficulties with the approach to police disclosure outlined in the 2013 Protocol and Good Practice Model and made detailed suggestions for new procedural guidelines, subject to formal review by the President of the Family Division.
Where a 19-year-old offender had taken advantage of a 12-year-old girl’s willingness to engage in sexual activity there were no exceptional circumstances that justified a non-custodial sentence; a community order was replaced by a sentence of three-and-a-half years’ imprisonment.
A decision to prosecute a 12-year-old boy for rape of a child under 13 had been taken by the Crown Prosecution Service following extensive consideration of its impact on the defendant. There was no basis for saying that its decision was incompatible with his right to respect for his private life under ECHR art.8.
A conviction for sexual offences against a child was safe, as medical evidence adduced as fresh had not permitted confident review of a previous diagnosis so as to describe it as ill-founded; taken at its highest it neither supported nor refuted the allegations against the offender. The defence was still that any abuse was perpetrated by another and the jury had decided on the non-medical evidence.
Six convictions for making indecent images of children were inconsistent with not guilty verdicts reached on eight similar counts. Although the defendant had viewed the relevant images, that was true in respect of the counts on which he had been acquitted and there was clear evidence that when he saw indecent material, he deleted it.
A sentence of six years’ imprisonment following convictions for historic charges of rape, indecency with a child and sexual assault, committed against a 13-year-old girl, was increased to 12 years’ imprisonment where the judge had departed from the sentencing guidelines without giving reasons for doing so and where the sentence imposed failed to reflect the totality of the offending.
A total sentence of eight years’ imprisonment was appropriate for an individual convicted of four counts of historic sexual offences involving a young child. Two of the counts had been part of the same incident and course of conduct and the sentences on those counts were made concurrent rather than consecutive in order to reduce the total sentence.
A sentence of nine years’ imprisonment, following convictions for three historic offences of sexual assault against a child, was increased to 14 years’ where the offending had been frequent and repeated and where the judge had wrongly constrained himself by the maximum sentence available for a single offence.
An offender’s conviction for offences of sexual acitivity with a child was not rendered unsafe by the judge’s failure, after allowing a video recording of the complainant’s evidence-in-chief to be replayed to the jury when they had retired to consider their verdict, to expressly warn the jury against giving the replay video evidence a disproportionate weight.
A sentence of 17 years and 2 months’ imprisonment with an eight-year extension period imposed for child sex offences was justified as the offender had carried out the systemic and sustained abuse of his step-daughter from age 6 to 11 and of her cousin, who suffered from autism, at age 12.
A seven-and-a-half year custodial sentence was appropriate for an offender convicted of historic sexual offences against two young children he had babysat when he was a teenager and young adult. The sentence correctly reflected the relevant factors under the modern sentencing regime without exceeding the maximum sentence available at the time of the offending.
An 18-month detention and training order was reduced to 12 months where a 16-year-old offender had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity to four offences of rape of a child under 13. The offender and the 12-year-old victim had been in a relationship since meeting at school and, although the judge had been right to impose a custodial sentence, sufficient allowance had not been made for the available mitigation and the need to keep custody to a minimum for young offenders.
A sentence of 18 months’ imprisonment was appropriate for an offender who had pleaded guilty to making and possessing indecent photographs of children. An extended sentence was not justified as there was no evidence of dangerousness in relation to contact with children.
When dismissing an appeal against conviction for sexual activity involving children, including rape and trafficking within the UK for sexual exploitation, the court considered the issue of consent. Where a vulnerable or immature individual had allegedly been subjected to grooming for sexual purposes, the question of whether real or proper consent had been given would usually be for the jury to decide, unless the evidence clearly indicated that proper consent had been given.
A total sentence of 16 years’ imprisonment was increased to 20 years where a judge had been wrongly advised that his sentencing powers in relation to offences of buggery committed when the offender was under 18 were limited to 12 months’ imprisonment.
Two appeals against conviction for the sexual abuse of children were dismissed. Although the judge should not have allowed the jury to return their verdicts piecemeal, that had not affected the overall safety of the convictions. However, in trials of sexual abuse cases involving multiple counts, trial judges should invite the jury not to return their verdicts until they had concluded their deliberations on all counts.
In a criminal case concerning historical sexual offences, the judge had not favoured the prosecution in his directions to the jury, and the appellate court was not left with any sense of unease about the safety of the convictions.
The Northern Ireland Public Prosecution Service had not erred in making a decision not to prosecute an alleged rape of a 14-year-old boy with moderate learning difficulties; there was a clear factual basis for the finding that there were insufficient grounds to mount a prosecution.
A total sentence of 22 years’ imprisonment imposed on a hospital doctor for sexual offences against children was not excessive in view of the egregious breach of trust involved. A finding of dangerousness was also justified, notwithstanding that the offences had not involved penetrative sexual activity, because of the far-reaching consequences of the offending and the very significant risk of serious harm posed by the offender.
Developments in medical knowledge that reduced the diagnostic significance of physical signs of abuse in children did not render a conviction prior to the change in approach unsafe.
A district judge had failed to appreciate when deciding to retain jurisdiction to prosecute a young offender in the youth court for child sex offences that an amendment to the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000 s.3B introduced by the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 s.53 was not in force when he made his decision.
Life sentences coupled with minimum terms ranging from 17 to 12 years were appropriate in the case of four men who had been convicted of serious sexual offences following their involvement in one of the worst cases of child exploitation to come before the courts.
In a high-profile case concerning historical sexual offences, the trial judge had not erred in her approach to pre-trial publicity, had properly summed up the defence case, and had given the jury proper directions as to the burden and standard of proof, lies and inconsistencies.
A suspended sentence of two years’ imprisonment was increased by lifting the suspended element and imposing an immediate two-year custodial sentence, for an offender who had pleaded guilty to ten counts of historic sexual abuse. The court noted that this was an exceptional case, in which the offender had volunteered the fact of a second victim, and said it should not be treated as a precedent.
The creation of indecent pseudo images of children, by superimposing photographs of a child’s head onto photographs of naked adults in indecent poses, constituted possession, and not production, of indecent photographs of children within the sentencing guidelines. Production offences did not include those where pseudo images were made using images taken from other sources. A sentence of two years’ imprisonment imposed on an offender of previous good character was reduced to a five-month suspended sentence with a requirement to attend a sexual offences treatment programme.
A determinate sentence of two years was appropriate in the case of a 27-year-old man who had pleaded guilty to engaging in sexual activity with a 15-year-old girl.
The court rejected a submission that photographs of young naked children could not be indecent as a matter of law: that question was for a jury to decide, and any categorisation of those photographs was only useful for sentencing purposes.
An extended sentence of 39 years, with a custodial term of 33 years, imposed in respect of a very large number of serious sexual offences against young girls was manifestly excessive; the appropriate custodial term was 30 years. The judge had also erred in adding up the consecutive sentences to reach the overall custodial term before imposing an extension period on the total: it was the overall extended determinate sentences that had to be consecutive, not just the custodial terms.
An offender who had been incorrectly convicted of indecent assault instead of gross indecency with a child had his appeal against conviction allowed and his sentence reduced to six years’ imprisonment.
It was unjust for a Crown Court judge to order that a foreign travel order begin afresh from the date on which he had dismissed an appeal by an offender against that order. The order was to run from the date on which it had originally been made.
An application for a writ of habeas corpus by a prisoner who had been sentenced to imprisonment for public protection when his offence pre-dated the coming into force of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 failed. The sentencing judge had had competent jurisdiction to direct both imprisonment and a minimum term. Her order could not, therefore, be ignored as a suspected nullity; it had to be obeyed unless and until it was set aside on appeal.
A judge had not erred in imposing a sentence of imprisonment for public protection on an offender following his guilty pleas to a number of sexual assaults of children under 13. The imposition of an extended sentence, coupled with a sexual offences prevention order, would not have enabled an assessment to be made before release of the success or otherwise of any sex offender programme or other work undertaken in reducing the risk the offender presented.
A total sentence of five years’ imprisonment imposed following guilty pleas to making indecent images of children, distributing indecent images of children, possessing extreme pornographic images and causing a child to engage in sexual activity was reduced to four years. The sentencing judge had failed to categorise properly the nature of the defendant’s activity relating to the imagery in accordance with the relevant sentencing guidelines, in particular that he had simply downloaded the majority of the indecent photographs rather than participating in their production.
A judge had been right to refuse severance of a defendant’s indictment for child abduction from his co-defendants’ additional indictments for rape. The jury had not misunderstood the scope or nature of the case against the defendant, they had been directed carefully and the summing up had been clear.
A sentence of imprisonment for public protection, which had been unlawfully imposed following an offender’s guilty pleas to two offences of indecent assault committed before the Criminal Justice Act 2003 Pt 12 s.225 came into force, was quashed and replaced by an extended sentence.
A non-custodial sentence was unduly lenient for a young offender of previous good character who had pleaded guilty to sexual offences involving a girl under 13: a custodial sentence of two and a half years was substituted.
A judge had not diluted a good character direction by directing a jury that to the extent that they accepted evidence of misconduct additional to that contained on the indictment, they would want to consider whether that evidence reduced the weight which they gave to the fact that the defendant had no previous convictions.
A decision to prosecute a 10-year-old boy for sexual offences committed against a younger boy was not irrational, nor had there been a failure by the CPS to follow its settled policy on the prosecution of young offenders.
A judge had not erred in admitting evidence of an individual’s previous conviction for possessing an indecent image of a child in his trial for rape and sexual assault of a child. It was admissible as evidence relevant to an issue in the case, namely his inappropriate sexual interest in young girls.
A trial for three specimen offences of sexual activity with a child had been fair, even though the complainant’s cross-examination was cut short due to her extreme distress. The defendant’s principal defence had been put to her, and there was other evidence upon which the jury could rely. The resulting sentence of nine years’ imprisonment was appropriate given that the defendant had committed numerous similar offences against the complainant while the sentencing guidelines were aimed at a single offence.
In a case involving allegations of historic child sexual abuse constituting a course of conduct, it was not possible to see how a jury had reached a guilty verdict in relation to one count, but not-guilty verdicts in relation to others. The verdicts were inconsistent, the judge had erred in giving a Watson direction, and the conviction was quashed.
A written note that flattered a 13-year-old girl, asked her to come around for “some fun” if she wanted to and stated that it was okay if she did not was not just an invitation. The words used were capable of amounting to an incitement to sexual activity. The court advised that in circumstances where the need to appeal arose during the currency of criminal proceedings and the appeal could be mounted very quickly, it was sufficient to tell the jury that a procedural issue had arisen that was neither the fault of the defence or prosecution and that the case had to be adjourned until the date that the issue could be resolved; to say otherwise would lead to rife speculation.
A sentencing judge had no jurisdiction to vary a sentence once the time period in the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000 s.155 had expired. The case of R. v Saville (Peter Davies)  Q.B. 12 provided no authority to the contrary.
The court granted leave to prefer a voluntary bill of indictment under the Administration of Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1933 s.2(2)(b) against the defendant, Gary Glitter, on counts of alleged historic sex abuse. Acknowledging the exceptional nature of its decision, the court held that it was in the interests of justice, and the defendant would not be denied a fair trial by reason of delay.
The court gave guidance on the procedure to be followed by the judge when deciding whether the cross-examination of a vulnerable witness was appropriate.
A sentence of two years’ imprisonment imposed on a 44-year-old woman who had pleaded guilty to three offences of sexual activity with a 14-year-old boy was unduly lenient. Although the offences had been out of character, there were several aggravating features, including the disparity in age, the fact that the offender took advantage of the victim’s inebriation, a breach of trust, and a lack of remorse.
An aggregate sentence of 28 months’ imprisonment following a guilty plea to breach of a sexual offences prevention order and making and possessing indecent images of a child, mainly of level 1, was too high. An aggregate sentence of 18 months was appropriate.
A sentence of two years’ immediate imprisonment was quashed and a 36-month community order with a supervision requirement and a Sex Offender Treatment Programme requirement was substituted for four counts of making indecent photographs of a child. According to the sentencing guidelines, where there was sufficient prospect of rehabilitation, a community order with a Sex Offender Treatment Programme requirement could be a proper alternative to a short or moderate custodial sentence.
A sentence of four years’ imprisonment imposed after trial for indecent assault was unduly lenient where the offender, who was akin to a stepfather to a seven-year-old child, had committed sexual acts against her, forcing her to perform oral sex on him. A sentence of seven years’ imprisonment was substituted.
A suspended sentence for seven offences of indecent assault on step-siblings of a very young age, carried out over a protracted period some 20 years earlier, had not been unduly lenient. The interruption to the offender’s treatment programme that an immediate custodial sentence would cause, and the potential resulting exacerbation of the situation, amounted to an exceptional circumstance justifying the suspended sentence under the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000 s.118.
Where an offender made indecent images of children at a variety of levels of seriousness, a sentence was to be imposed on the most serious category of counts, taking into account the totality of the offending and having regard to aggravating and mitigating factors, before credit was given for any guilty pleas. Concurrent sentences were then to be imposed on the remaining counts.
A judge had not erred in refusing an application for an interim non-disclosure order where the interests of publishers and the public under the ECHR art.6 and art.10 outweighed the interests of a person under art.8 who had been arrested but not formally charged following an investigation into allegations of child sex grooming and prostitution.
It was not arguable that either a total sentence of 29 years’ custody with an extended licence period of six years imposed on a former rock band singer for various sexual offences against children and young persons, or a total sentence of 17 years’ imprisonment imposed on a woman who had allowed the singer to sexually assault her 12-month-old baby daughter, were manifestly excessive.
In a case where the defendant was accused of sexual offences against his daughter, the judge had been correct to refuse to admit the evidence of a retired psychiatrist and psychotherapist: her thesis of false memory syndrome lacked evidence to support it.
A three-year community order imposed on an offender for multiple offences of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity was replaced with a term of three years’ imprisonment. The manipulative nature, frequency and persistence of the offending, targeting vulnerable victims including two under 13, required an immediate custodial sentence even though the offender had voluntarily sought help for his behaviour.
Where an offender had been convicted of historic sexual offences in respect of his step-daughter, who was five or six years’ old at the time of the abuse, the appropriate sentence was a term of five years’ imprisonment. The key to the sentencing exercise in such cases was to assess the harm from the offending and the culpability of the offender, taken with any aggravating and mitigating factors, while always bearing in mind the statutory maximum at the relevant time.
There was no basis on which to extend time to allow an offender to appeal against his convictions for rape, sexual assault, and causing or inciting a four-year-old child to engage in sexual activity. Although the normal trial process had had to be modified in a number of ways because of the victim’s age, the judge had taken great care to ensure that the trial was fair.
Convictions for making indecent photographs of children were quashed where, although the defendant had not given evidence on the point, there was material which required the judge to give directions on the possibility that the defendant might have downloaded the images without knowing that they involved children. That was a potential defence and had to be left specifically for the jury to determine.
A sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment was appropriate in the case of a senior police officer who had been convicted of a number of sexual offences against his wife and teenage boys. In a case of this nature, where the offending spanned a long period of time and where there had been significant changes in the legislation, Crown counsel should ensure that assistance was given to the judge in relation to his sentencing powers.
An offender seeking to challenge his conviction for indecent assault on the ground that his actions had been the result of hypoglycaemia caused by his type 1 diabetes could not admit fresh expert evidence where it failed to deal the question at issue, namely, whether he had only recalled the assaults during his police interview because his solicitors had taken him through the disclosure document beforehand.
The court expressed concerns about the professional response to the death of a 13-month-old child who had died suddenly and in unexplained circumstances whilst in her parents’ care. In particular, it criticised the police failure to undertake any real investigation until nine months after the child’s death and the local authority’s failure to take legal advice and start proceedings for a similar period. Those failures affected the court’s ability to make findings of fact about the cause of the death during care proceedings.
A judge’s refusal to hold a fact-finding hearing to clarify whether a father, who had been allowed unsupervised contact with his children, had committed indecent assault many years earlier could not be criticised.
New evidence as to a complainant’s reliability and truthfulness, which was not disclosed at the trial in 2001 of a man charged with indecently assaulting under-age children and attempted buggery of an under-age boy when he worked at children’s homes in the 1970s, would not have affected the safety of his convictions even if it had been admissible.
A judge had been wrong to commit a child for trial in the Crown Court for a sexual offence because, taking into account the child’s previous good character and the fact that he was 11 years old at the time of the offence, there was no real prospect that the Crown Court would exercise its powers under the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000 s.91 to impose a custodial sentence.
A total sentence of four-and-a-half years’ imprisonment imposed on an offender following his conviction for a number of sexual offences committed against his stepdaughter over a five-year period was unduly lenient. The sentence was increased to seven years’ imprisonment.
A recorder had erred in varying an order so that the identity of a young offender could be made public; he had given insufficient consideration to the public interest in the effective rehabilitation of the offender.
A recorder had not erred in refusing a defence application to cross-examine a rape victim pursuant to the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 s.41 in order to question her regarding her sexual relationship with another man.
It had not been logically inconsistent for a jury to find a man accused of sexual activity with a child guilty of having intercourse with her but not guilty of digitally penetrating her as they were separate incidents and the surrounding circumstances of the latter might have led the jury to be not sure beyond a reasonable doubt.