In an article posted to this website on 29 June 2020, the position of Mark Sutherland, who had been in the news concerning his conviction for attempted grooming offences and his appeal to the Supreme Court, was discussed.
He maintained that the admittance at his trial of evidence collected by ‘paedophile hunters’ amounted to an interference of his human right to a private life.
The Supreme Court has now issued its ruling which we now consider together with recent guidance issued by the Crown Prosecution Service in relation to how such grooming offences should be charged.
Kangs Solicitors has developed an enviable reputation over the past twenty years in all aspects of criminal defence including defending clients being investigated/charged with offences of a sexual nature.
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The Supreme Court Ruling | Kangs Sexual Offences Defence Team
In unanimously dismissing Mr Sutherland’s appeal, the Supreme Court ruled that:
- even though private communications between Mr Sutherland and the paedophile hunters had been used in a public prosecution, this type of communication was incapable of being worthy of protection under the European Convention on Human Rights (‘ECHR’) and that he had no realistic expectation of privacy in relation to such communications,
- countries party to the ECHR have a duty to protect children from sexual exploitation by adults and the interests of children exceeded any interest that a paedophile could have in engaging in criminal conduct.
- there was no supervening obligation on the part of the state to protect Mr Sutherland’s interests that would prevent the use of the evidence to investigate or prosecute a crime, when, in fact, there was a positive obligation to the contrary.
Crown Prosecution Guidelines | Kangs National Sexual Offences Solicitors
- In 2019 the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announced tougher guidelines in relation to charges brought as a result of use of evidence gathered by paedophile hunters.
- Previously, such offences would have been charged as an attempt and, given that Mr Sutherland was only convicted in Scotland of an attempted grooming offence, it was feared that offenders were receiving lighter sentences than ought to be the case for the nature of the crime involved.
- The CPS guidance now states that provided the evidence is of a sufficient quality to secure a realistic prospect of conviction, suspected offenders caught by paedophile hunters/undercover sting operations are to be prosecuted for the same offences as those who are communicating with/meeting real victims.
Who Can I Contact For Advice & Help? | Kangs Criminal Defence Solicitors
Crucially, an experienced solicitor should be present in interview at the police station whether it is an interview by appointment or under arrest.
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