Former BBC presenter convicted of historic sex offences

Former BBC presenter convicted of historic sex offences

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Michael Souter, a former BBC radio presenter, has been convicted of 19 sexual offences committed on seven boys aged 11-16 between 1979 and 1999.

He was also convicted of seven counts of making and possessing indecent images.

Inaccurate reporting

The BBC reported that the offences were sexual assaults. Astute readers will realise that the offence of sexual assault (under the 2003 Sexual Offences Act) was only in force from 1 May 2004 and therefore was not available at any time during the period in which Souter committed the offences.

The offences are therefore likely to be indecent assault on a man under the Sexual Offences Act 1956 s 15. In contrast to the corresponding offence for assaults on women (section 14), the maximum sentence for the section 15 offence is and has always been 10 years.

The facts

We are unaware of the facts of the offences of which Souter was convicted however the BBC report states that during the trial the court heard how Souter used his celebrity status to carry out the attacks. In terms of a likely sentence, whilst it is impossible to assess without knowing the facts, the use of celebrity status to perpetrate the attacks on the boys is a seriously aggravating factor.

Readers may wish to cast their minds back to the Stuart Hall Attorney-General’s Reference judgment and remind themselves of the stern message the then Lord Chief Justice appeared to send out to celebs committing historic sex offences.

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Lyndon is the General Editor of Current Sentencing Practice and the Criminal Appeal Reports (Sentencing)

8 COMMENTS

  1. Presumably he entered a not guilty plea so there has to be a trial. What are differences in sentences if indecent assault of a man (child) carries a maximum of 10 years what’s the maximum sentence if his victim was a woman (child).

    • Indecent assault on a woman had it’s maximum sentence increased in 1985. Prior to that, the max was 2 years unless the victim was aged under 13 when the max was 5 years. In 1985 the max was increased to 10 years, irrespective of age. The max sentence which applies is at the time of the offence.

    • I think Andrew was saying that the offences (now) have the same maxima; s14 10 years from 1985, s15 10 years (always).

  2. No intention to confuse, sisterhood. Lyndon is right. There was a distinction, which is absurd, at the relevant time and yes, this Defendant will have to be sentenced as if the law from then was still in force – regrettable as it might be. Truthfully I had forgotten that the distinction once existed.

    The Sexual Offences Act 1956 was a consolidation act, which simply brings all the existing statute law on a subject into one Act; so it repeated earlier and grossly outdated provisions from Victorian times. Section 17, abduction of woman by force or for the sake of her property (note that in the latter case no force was required, she could be a willing and eager party)l section 18, fraudulent abduction of heiress from parent or guardian (it being the parent or guardian who was defrauded, not the heiress, who if sixteen might again be in on it) – maximum of fourteen years in both cases!

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