Earlier this year, our client came to us for legal guidance following his three allegations of indecent images against him when he was 17 years old.
During the time of his arrest, he was represented by his original legal aid solicitors, who gave him the advice to plead guilty to these offences as he stood before the Chelmsford Youth Court. He was then immediately sentenced and received a 12-month referral order, which was to be expected.
What he did not expect, nor indeed explained to or understood by our client or his family was that the court was also being asked to impose a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO), which in turn would that he was required to go on the Sex Offenders Register for a minimum period of five years.
Immediately after our client had been sentenced, he and his parents questioned what had happened and sought a second opinion on the merits of an appeal.
Consulting one of the Managing Partners at our Chelmsford office, Nick Titchener, immediately expressed his concerns that the youth court had made a fundamental mistake and not applied the relevant guidance nor the relevant legal authorities when considering whether he should be made subject to the SHPO.
The consequences of the court failing to apply the correct test or anyone considering the requirements that would need to be satisfied for such an order to be made were disastrous for our client, with long-term consequences that would impact him for the next five years. In fact, the making of the SHPO would adversely affect our client in all aspects of his life, from applications to university, employment and even where he could go or associate with.
Instructed on a private client basis, Nick immediately set about lodging an appeal against the sentence, arranging for relevant assessments and reports to be prepared in support to ensure the best possible chances of success.
Alongside Nick’s expertise, Drea Becker from 9 Bedford Row was instructed as counsel. Extensive work and representations were thereafter made by Nick in writing to the CPS, as well as the youth offending team.
In support of written submissions made by Nick and after lengthy representations at the appeal hearing by Drea, it was accepted that the SHPO should be set aside. Consequently, our client was no longer subject to the formal notification requirements and was immediately removed from the Sex Offenders Register.
This case illustrates just how easy it is for mistakes to be made when solicitors don’t have the expertise and knowledge required to challenge the court or prosecution.
Nick’s solid expertise in sexual offences enabled him to immediately identify the issues and work to ensure the court’s original mistake was corrected and the right result was eventually achieved for our client. Have you found yourself in a similar situation and let down by your legal aid solicitors? For expert legal guidance and support, reach out to Lawtons Solicitors today. Your legal matters deserve the best – contact us now!