Practice and Procedure


PUBLISHED June 18, 2003

A sentence of two years' imprisonment was manifestly excessive for breach of a sex offender's order prohibiting the defendant from keeping or wearing clerical clothing, a sentence of 12 months was appropriate.Appeal with leave of the single judge against a sentence imposed at Lewes Crown Court on 31 January 2003, following a plea of guilty, of two years for breach of a sex offender's order. On 15 February 1999 the defendant ('N') was convicted of indecency with a child. He was placed on the sex offender's register for ten years and a condition was imposed that he was prohibited from possessing or wearing clothing that showed he was an ordained minister. In 2002 he dressed as a vicar and conducted a funeral for a family, giving his name as Father Terry Moat. Staff at the funeral home believed he was an ordained minister of the Church of England. N's home was searched in December 2002, the clerical garments were seized and N was arrested. In interview he admitted having dressed as a vicar twice a week for 12 months but denied he did so to gain access to vulnerable young people. N had a number of previous convictions including two previous breaches of the sex offender's order for which he received four months' imprisonment. The pre-sentence report stated that N had shown no remorse and thrived on deception. He had a high risk of re-offending and posed a risk to vulnerable people. When sentencing the judge stated that N was banned from owning or wearing clerical clothing because he had used such clothing to gain the trust of young people. N appealed sentence as manifestly excessive because his behaviour was devoid of any sexual element.HELD: When courts exercised powers in relation to sex offender's orders they were entitled to take into account the risk posed by the defendant, per Lord Woolf in R v Beech (2002) 1 Cr App R (S) 3. N had committed no sexual or violent misbehaviour but he was disregarding the terms of the order. The breach put him in the position whereby he could gain access to young people and the offence was severely aggravated because it was the third breach. However, the appropriate sentence should have been 12 months' imprisonment.Appeal allowed.

[2003] EWCA Crim 2083