INDECENT ASSAULT

A well-known celebrity had his conviction for a historic offence of indecent assault quashed where fresh evidence undermined the credibility of one of the key prosecution witnesses. However, the court upheld the offender’s convictions for another 11 counts of indecent assault.

[2017] EWCA Crim 1849

The appellant’s conviction for indecent assault was rendered unsafe by directions of the trial judge which were unduly favourable to the complainant.

[2017] EWCA Crim 1774

A minimum term of 10 years’ imprisonment, equating to a determinate sentence of 20 years, imposed in respect of a life sentence following an offender’s conviction for historical offences of rape and indecent assault, was reduced to six years to reflect the principle of totality of sentence. The offender had previously been sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment for similar sexual offences committed close in time to the index offences, which effectively equated to a total sentence before reduction of 32 years.

[2017] NICA 36

A 17-year extended sentence imposed on an offender who had grossly abused his position of trust as deputy principal of a children’s home in subjecting young boys in his care to repeated sexual abuse was unduly lenient. Given the scale and frequency of the offending, which was akin to a campaign of rape, an extended sentence of 22 years was appropriate.

[2017] EWCA Crim 878

In a trial relating to historic offences of indecent assault, the judge had rightly allowed a witness, who had witnessed the alleged offences, to give evidence that she has also been inappropriately sexually touched by the appellant. The judge correctly directed the jury that her evidence did not go to propensity, but that it was potentially relevant to an important matter in issue.

A total sentence of 12 years’ imprisonment was appropriate in respect of 29 historical sex offences where an offender had carried out a sustained campaign of very serious abuse against his younger stepbrothers for about seven years, starting when the victims were only 9 years old, and involving a gross abuse of trust.

[2017] EWCA Crim 307

A bind-over, or the conduct leading to it, would not necessarily deprive a defendant of his entitlement to an unqualified good character direction. However, the defendant would not be entitled to have a bind-over simply ignored when the judge was considering whether to treat him as a person of good character.

[2017] EWCA Crim 35

There had been no misdirection and no unfairness to a defendant where a video recording of a victim’s achieving best evidence video had been played to the jury a second time at its request. The judge had summarised the defence case that the victim had changed her account, and had not been bound to remind the jury of the detailed way in which the case had been put.

[2017] EWCA Crim 1375

Guilty verdicts on specimen counts of indecent assault were not inconsistent with not-guilty verdicts on specific counts of indecent assault; the jury had been entitled to accept the victim as a witness of truth as to the offender’s generalised conduct notwithstanding that she had had difficulty remembering the specifics of incidents.

A judge had been entitled to use the word “grooming” to describe an offender’s behaviour even though the prosecution had not done so and nor had it alleged the offence of grooming. The prosecution had presented the case on the basis of an escalation of abuse, both in terms of the level of sexual activity and the means used to secure compliance, and grooming entailed no more or less than that.

[2016] NICA 61

The Court of Appeal gave guidance on the credit that should be given for a guilty plea which was tendered after the start of a trial.

A total sentence of 15 years’ imprisonment together with an extended licence period of one year was appropriate for historic sex offences committed by a 71-year-old man against his three step-grandchildren.

[2016] EWCA Crim 1777

A sentence of 12 years’ imprisonment imposed following guilty pleas to 24 charges of indecent assault on a male, two charges of indecency with a child under 14, one charge of indecent assault on a female under 13 and two charges of perjury, was increased to 18 years where the offender, a priest and former social worker, had committed a catalogue of offences against 11 victims over decades and where his behaviour resulted in one victim giving evidence at two trials.

[2016] EWCA Crim 1988

An appeal against conviction on two counts of indecent assault on a male was dismissed. The court rejected the appellant’s argument that the guilty verdicts were inconsistent with the jury’s findings and disagreements on the other counts in the indictment.

[2016] NICA 41

A sentence of three years’ conditional discharge imposed on a police officer for eight counts of indecent assault committed against his sisters-in-law was not unduly lenient. The offending properly fell within category 3B of the relevant sentencing guidelines as to culpability, as it had not involved an abuse of trust in the sense used in the guidelines.

[2016] EWCA Crim 1762

A conviction for offences of rape and indecent assault was not unsafe where, notwithstanding the judge’s omission to carry out the procedure in the Police Law 2010 s.149(2), which exactly reproduced the provisions of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 s.35, the appellant had been advised not only that he could give evidence if he wished but also that he risked an adverse inference if he did not and was adjudged to have had no good reason for the omission.

[2016] UKPC 18

A recorder had misdirected a jury in relation to conduct referred to in a count of indecent assault that might have occurred before the defendant’s 14th birthday. He had failed to direct that the defendant’s guilty knowledge had to extend beyond the evidence of the acts amounting to the offence itself.

[2016] EWCA Crim 674

A two-year suspended sentence which had been imposed on the offender following his conviction for two offences of indecent assault on young boys, committed when he was 11 and 14, was not unduly lenient.

[2016] EWCA Crim 572

A sentence of eight years’ imprisonment was appropriate in the case of a man who had been convicted of indecently assaulting two young girls in the early 1980s.

[2016] EWCA Crim 2009

A judge had been right to exclude hearsay evidence under the Criminal Justice Act 2003 s.126, as the evidence the defendant sought to admit concerning another man’s confession and subsequent retraction to rapes that the defendant denied committing was already before the jury. The DNA evidence implicating the defendant was overwhelming and there was no doubt that his convictions were safe.

[2016] EWCA Crim 16

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.

[2015] EWCA Crim 1792

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.

An immediate 15-month custodial sentence imposed on a 68-year-old man in respect of offences of incest and indecent assault which he had committed against his younger sister when aged 15 was replaced with a community penalty. The judge had been misled by not being referred to the relevant guidelines for sentencing youths, and he had not been justified in imposing a far harsher sentence than would have been imposed if the offender had been a 15-year-old boy at the time of sentencing.

[2015] EWCA Crim 1501

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.

[2015] NICA 43

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 sentencing judge had erred in passing sentence for historic offences of indecent assault by referring to a notional sentencing guideline with a starting point midway in the statutory range at the time of the offence rather than adopting the current starting points and the relevant sentencing ranges, subject to the earlier statutory maximum.

[2015] EWCA Crim 1538

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.

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.

[2014] EWCA Crim 2613

Not guilty verdicts returned by a jury in respect of two of five counts of historic indecent assault did not demonstrate that the judge’s refusal to stay the prosecution on the ground of abuse of process due to delay and the consequent loss of evidence was mistaken, or that the verdicts were illogical or in any other way unsafe.

[2014] EWCA Crim 2079

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.

[2014] EWCA Crim 1929

A suspended sentence for seven offences of indecent assault on step-siblings of a very young age, carried out over a protracted period some twenty 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.

[2014] EWCA Crim 1933

Although a judge had erred in not distinguishing between contemporaneous evidence and that which occurred some years after the relevant events, and in directing that a complainant’s evidence of distress could be corroborative of an allegation of indecent assault, any misdirections were immaterial and could not affect the safety of the appellant’s conviction.

[2014] EWCA Crim 2181

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.

[2014] EWCA Crim 1421

The court gave guidance on a jury direction required in relation to establishing the elements of the offence of indecent assault.

[2014] EWCA Crim 1663

In a trial of charges of sexual offences against the defendant’s daughter and granddaughter, the judge had been entitled to rule that the complainants’ various complaints were mutually cross-admissible. Further, the complainants’ evidence had not been contaminated.

[2014] EWCA Crim 1311

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.

[2014] EWCA Crim 1221

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.

[2014] EWCA Crim 1121

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.

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[2014] EWCA Crim 457

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.

[2014] EWCA Crim 342

An offender’s convictions for historic offences of rape, buggery, attempted rape, indecent assault and murder were deemed safe, as the judge had given the jury adequate directions as to the dangers of delay and its effect on the evidence.

[2013] EWCA Crim 2398

A 30-year delay on the part of a complainant did not render an offender’s convictions for indecent assault, indecency with a child, and rape unsafe as the judge had sufficiently dealt with any prejudice to the offender in his summing up and directions to the jury and there had been other evidence that supported the complainant’s evidence.

A sentence of twelve months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, for six counts of gross indecency with a child was unduly lenient where the offender’s lack of contrition had seriously aggravated his offending, and was replaced with two years and three months’ imprisonment, not suspended.

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[2013] EWCA Crim 2574

The Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland overturned an appellant’s convictions on three out of eleven counts of historic sexual abuse on the basis that they were unsafe. It found the remainder to be safe, rejecting arguments that the judge had erred in permitting evidence of reprehensible behaviour and that a fair trial had been rendered impossible by the passage of time.

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[2013] NICA 79

A sentence of 15 months’ imprisonment imposed for 14 historic indecent assaults was unduly lenient and was increased to one of 30 months. Even though the offender, a highly regarded television and radio presenter with no previous convictions, was 83 years old, in poor health, and had not offended for over 25 years, the original sentence did not reflect the offences’ criminality given their lifelong impact on the victims and public concern over sexual crimes against children and young victims.

[2013] EWCA Crim 1450

A nine-year term of imprisonment imposed on an offender for rape following a retrial in respect of allegations of rape and indecent assault of two young girls was reduced to eight years, as the sentence passed did not accurately reflect the fact that he had been acquitted of one of the rapes.

A trial judge had a wide discretion as to what warning, if any, he gave to a jury in relation to a witness’s alleged unreliability. In the instant case, the judge had given an adequate and appropriate warning to the jury with regard to the inconsistencies in the complainant’s evidence and an admitted lie, and the offender’s conviction for indecent assault and rape was safe.

[2013] EWCA Crim 1426

Where there had been a long delay in bringing a prosecution for indecent assaults, the effect of the delay on the perpetrator’s identification was often best addressed by a short, self-contained direction that focused on the defendant. Although a judge’s direction on the effect of delay on the identification of a Buddhist monk who had sexually assaulted a nine-year old girl in a temple 34 years ago had not been structured in the most appropriate way, it had not amounted to a misdirection and the resulting convictions for indecent assault were safe.

[2013] EWCA Crim 992

In the course of a trial for the indecent assault of a young girl, evidence of the complainant’s demeanour had been admitted without it having been established that it was linked to the abuse she alleged. While the jury should have been clearly directed that that evidence did not confirm what she alleged, the absence of such a direction did not render the conviction unsafe.

[2013] NICA 34

A judge had correctly directed a jury on the issue of doli incapax that they could look at the circumstances surrounding historic sex offences to assist them in their assessment of whether a 13-year-old boy had been aware that his acts were seriously wrong.

[2013] NICA 23