“Grooming”is a relatively new offence and is charged when someone has been meeting or communicating with someone under 16 and they then go to meet them in order to carry out an offence, such as sexual intercourse.
The offence does not have to actually be carried out; travelling and intending to do something is enough and the police have been known to run sting operations posing as under 16 year olds on chat rooms.
Whatever the circumstances, Stephen is a barrister with the right experience, judgment and skill to properly defend you if you are accused of such a crime.
Appeal Court decisions relating to “grooming” cases
The jury directions given at the trial of a well-known publicist for historical sexual offences had not been inadequate or unfair, and his conviction for indecent assault was safe.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A sentence of eight years’ imprisonment was the very minimum that the court could impose following a plea of guilty to the rape of a young boy, which had been committed in breach of trust and against a background of repeated and regular sexual abuse. The court would be sympathetic to those who had been abused themselves, but such abuse could not excuse a child victim turning adult predator. The sentence of four-and-a-half years’ imprisonment was unduly lenient.
The court set out guidance on factors to be considered when making sexual offences prevention orders alongside other sentences and in respect of computer and internet use, personal contact with children and occupations or activities which were likely to bring the defendant into contact with children.
The aim of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 s.15(1) was to penalise those who used a relationship which they had developed as a platform from which to launch sexual offending. In the instant case, there was more than a substantial body of evidence corroborating the complainant child’s version of events which justified the jury reaching the conclusion that the offender had arranged to meet her for the purposes of a sexual assault.
Sentences of 11 years’ imprisonment imposed on three offenders and a total sentence of 14 years’ imprisonment imposed on another offender for offences arising out of the sexual exploitation of two young girls were appropriate in view of the various aggravating features, which included the fact that one of the girls was a vulnerable 16-year-old child and that both girls were forced to act as prostitutes.
A notional determinate sentence that equated to 30 years’ imprisonment before a one-third reduction for guilty pleas, which had formed the basis for calculating the specified minimum term of a life sentence imposed for 28 counts relating to the sexual abuse of five boys, was excessive and reduced to 20 years.
A sentence of 30 months’ imprisonment following a guilty plea to an offence of attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming was excessive where the defendant was a man of previous good character and there were no aggravating features. On the evidence, there was no justification for exceeding the two-year starting point recommended by the Sentencing Guidelines Council, from which a one-third deduction was appropriate for the guilty plea.
“Control” within the meaning of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 s.53 should be given its ordinary dictionary meaning of directing a relevant activity and included, but was not limited to, individuals who forced another to carry out a relevant activity. Therefore there was no need to prove that a complainant had been forced, coerced or compelled to work as a prostitute, merely that she had been directed to do so.
A sentence of imprisonment for public protection was inappropriate where there was evidence to suggest that a defendant’s repressed paedophilic tendencies could be controlled and minimised with effective treatment.
Sentences of four and two years’ imprisonment were appropriate in the case of a husband and wife who had involved two 14-year-old girls in sexual activity.
A sentence of 40 months’ imprisonment for conspiracy to traffic into the United Kingdom for sexual exploitation contrary to the Sexual Offences Act 2003 s.57 was excessive in light of a defendant’s lack of previous convictions, his young age, the limited scale of the criminal operation and his plea of guilty.
In the circumstances, a sentence of 18 months’ imprisonment imposed for one offence of keeping a brothel was manifestly excessive, and a sentence of four months’ imprisonment was appropriate.
In an attempted sexual grooming case where the offender was caught by a newspaper sting operation and there was no actual victim, a sentence of 18 months’ imprisonment on a guilty plea was appropriate for a man of previous good character who had been subjected to the humiliation of exposure in the national press.