The applicant, represented by Matthew Scott on a direct access basis, had received a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (‘SOPO’) in late 2009 for offences committed in 2007 and 2008. The order was expressed to last indefinitely.
The Recorder of Winchester, HHJ Cutler CBE was invited to discharge the SOPO under s.108 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003, on the basis of a change in material circumstances rendering the order no longer necessary.
Since the imposition of the order, the applicant had fully cooperated with police notification requirements and an unannounced seizure and inspection of his electronic devices, obtained employment and sought professional help for mental health issues. He gave evidence regarding the positive changes in his health and personal life, and the ongoing impact of the SOPO on his professional life.
For as long as the SOPO were to continue, the applicant would have been unable to become a ‘rehabilitated person’ under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. His conviction could not become ‘spent’ until and unless the order were discharged. The applicant had already completed his 5 years on the sex offenders’ register at the time of the application.
Mr. Scott argued that the applicant had scrupulously complied with the terms of the SOPO, and that there had been no reoffending in the 7 years since the offences for which the applicant had been sentenced. He had therefore evidenced a material change in circumstances, such that order should be discharged.
HHJ Cutler CBE stated that the applicant’s rights to private and family life under Article 8 of the ECHR needed to be balanced against the rights of others to be protected from the risk of reoffending. He noted the applicant’s compliance with the terms of the SOPO, his full cooperation with the authorities and the ‘clean bill of health’ given by the police after their unannounced seizure and inspection of his electronic devices. In light of the reduced risk posed by the applicant, demonstrated through seven years of good character following the commission of the offences, he was satisfied that the SOPO was no longer necessary for the protection of the public. The order was discharged with immediate effect.