West Law Report

Child’s consent irrelevant to underage sex sentence

Posted in Times Law Report by mrkooenglish on September 3, 2008

From The TimesAugust 29, 2008

Child’s consent irrelevant to underage sex sentence
Court of Appeal, Criminal Division
Published August 29, 2008

Attorney-General’s Reference (No 29 of 2008) (Jon Peter Dixon)

A non-custodial sentence for sexual offences against a child under 13 where the child had been a willing participant did not meet the essential fact that the law was there not only to protect children from the baleful influence of adults with an inappropriate interest in children but was also designed to protect children from themselves.

The Court of Appeal, Criminal Division (Sir Igor Judge, President, Mr Justice Simon and Mr Justice Akenhead) so held on July 31, 2008 when granting leave to the Attorney-General under section 36 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 to refer to the court as unduly lenient a sentence passed on the defendant, Jon Peter Dixon, by Judge Atherton on January 18, 2008, at Manchester Crown Court of a community order with supervision requirements for three years, on the defendant’s plea of guilty to meeting a child following sexual grooming, assaulting a child under 13 by penetration and attempted rape of a child under 13. A two-year prison sentence was substituted.

THE PRESIDENT said that the complainant was a child of 11 who joined an internet chatline, claiming that she was 20. The defendant, who was 19 at the time, started chatting online to her. The messages sent by the complainant were no less sexually explicit than the defendant’s.

When the defendant discovered her true age he did not break off the relationship. They arranged to meet and the sexual activity with which the defendant was charged took place with the full consent of the complainant.

Although the defendant had not corrupted the child, a noncustodial sentence did not meet the need to protect children not only from adult offenders but from themselves.

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