80 year old sex offender sentenced to 10-year extended sentence

80 year old sex offender sentenced to 10-year extended sentence


On 12 September 2014, the BBC reported that “Watford paedophile jailed for 10 years as risk to children”. So what was the story?

BBC confusion

Well, the article seems to get a little confused with the sentence that was imposed. ‘Jailed for 10 years’ is unclear in itself – does it mean a 10 year sentence (which we all know means 5 years in custody and 5 years on licence) or does it mean 10 years in prison (which would mean a 20-year sentence)? Well, as just demonstrated, it could mean either. Here however, it means neither.

The facts

The news report doesn’t indicate whether or not there was a guilty plea, but we assume there was not.

John Dearlove, from Watford, was convicted of six counts of sexual assault of a child aged under 13 and one of sexual assault of a girl committed between 2008 and 2011. One of the victims was as young as 8 years old.

David Smithet, in mitigation, said Dearlove was a widower since his wife of 40 years died in 1999 and a diabetic who had suffered a stroke. No doubt a reference was also made to his age and how difficult a prison sentence would be on him.

The BBC stated that “Judge Stephen Gullick said a probation report on Dearlove said he did not “exhibit an understanding” of his offending.”

The BBC report doesn’t go into any more details than that, and so we’ve struggled to ascertained exactly what happened. However, using the guidelines and working backwards, we can have a go.

The sentence

He received an extended sentence of 10 years, comprising a custodial sentence of 5 1/2 years and an extended licence of 4 1/2 years. The BBC failed to really make that clear, which is a pity as to my mind, the news report is rather misleading in its current form.

Presuming that he has no previous convictions which in some circumstances can alter the release provisions for extended sentences, he will have to serve 2/3 of the custodial sentence before being released on licence.

In practical terms, that means he will serve just short of 4 years (44 months to be precise) and then a further 76 months on licence (22 months of his custodial term + 54 months of the extended licence).

The new Sexual Offences Guideline applied (see p.37 onwards). Based on the sentence imposed (and here we are only looking at the custodial element – the 5 1/2 years) it is likely that the behaviour involved some touching of naked genitalia. Beyond that, however, as the guidelines are drawn quite widely, it is difficult to guess what the offences involved.

We can’t say whether or not there is likely to be an appeal but aged 80 with a relatively long

More confusion

The BBC report also stated that:

(1) “The extended sentence was because he remained a significant risk to children under 16.”

(2) “… and was banned from unsupervised contact with children for the next 10 years.”

Let’s break this down.

(1) The test for “dangerousness” (allowing either an extended sentence or a life sentence to be imposed) is whether or not the defendant poses a significant risk of serious harm to members of the public. Once that test is satisfied (and a couple of other hurdles), the judge MAY impose an extended sentence. But does not have to.

(2) This sounds like a Sexual Offences Prevention Order. The judge will have had the power to make an order in such terms as were necessary and proportionate. The order will have been more detailed than the BBC report suggests and will have set out several prohibitions designed to protect – presumably – young girls from Dearlove.