In Court

Published date01 December 2022
Date01 December 2022
Subject MatterIn Court
In Court
Nigel Stone, Visiting Fellow in the School of Psychology, University of East Anglia,
reviews recent appeal judgments and other judicial developments that inform senten-
cing and early release.
Sexual harm
Under-estimated seriousness of touching victims presumed asleep
Having married V1s mother when V1 was aged two, BN had left the family home
ten years later (2016) but he continued to visit regularly and sometimes stayed over-
night, indulging in binge drinking. Having entered V1s bedroom while attending a
Halloween party in 2016 when her friend V2 was staying over with her, he had
asked them for hugs and kisses. While attending a New Years Eve party at the
end of 2016 he made a number of visits to the bedroom where V1, V2 and three
other children were sleeping. BN touched the two girlslegs, moving up to their
upper and inner thighs, over their sleepwear, whilst checking to see if they were
asleep. He subsequently messaged V2, asking to meet her but telling her to keep
this a secret. The girls then decided to tell their mothers about BNs behaviour.
Though the police were informed, there was a considerable and unexplained
delay (through no fault of BN) before he was charged in January 2020. He was
eventually convicted in May 2021 (contested trial being delayed by the pandemic)
on four counts of sexual assault of a child aged under-13, two involving each girl.
The trial judge decided that BN (who had one previous and unrelated conviction,
attracting a community order) did not meet the dangerousnesscriteria, notwith-
standing a very unsettling effect on the girls, and opted to sentence without
seeking a PSR. Deeming that BNs offending came within category 3A of the
Sentencing Councils relevant Guideline (Sexual Offences, 2013), thus indicating
a starting point of 12 monthscustody with a range between 26 weeks and two
years, the judge observed that he clearly had a sexual interest in the girls and his
inhibitions had been lowered by his consumption of drink and/or drugs. Having
deemed the merited sentence to be 15 months, the judge took account of the
absence of relevant convictions and of any previous experience of custody, and
the potential adverse impact of Covid, imposing 12 months imprisonment concur-
rent for each offence, also making a sexual harm prevention order (SHPO).
The Journal of Communit
and Criminal Justice
Probation Journal
2022, Vol. 69(4) 493504
© The Author(s) 2022
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/02645505221123499

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