Alan Hall, aged 27, was sentenced on 16 March 2015 for sexual activity with a child, having been convicted by a jury of five counts.
Hall had pursued the victim, a 14-year-old school girl, repeatedly complimenting her as he cycled past her as she walked to school. Subsequently, he pulled alongside her in his van and offered her a lift, whereupon he drove them both to a nearby garage.
There, they kissed and on later occasions Hall “got her to carry out other sexual acts” – this is usually tabloid speak for oral sex and/or masturbation.
It’s unknown how many incidents of sexual activity and over what period Hall “pursued” the victim. However, he received a sentence of 4.5 years’ imprisonment.
We can’t really assess the level of sentence as the details are sketchy at best, however the guideline (see p 45) is helpful. We can see it would be either category 1 (oral sex) or category 2 (masturbation) and culpability “A” (because of the use of grooming – Hall having “pursued” her). That means the starting point is either 3 or 5 years. From there the judge would make an adjustment based on the other factors (length of time etc.). So we can see the the sentence is within the range (if a little low considering there were five counts and this was repeated activity).
It was reported that he was also given a sexual offences prevention order (SOPO). This is an order which places restrictions on an individual, an in Hall’s case, this reportedly includes a ban on having unsupervised contact with females under the age of 16.
However, it appears that that may be a bit of misreporting; SOPOs were repealed on 8 March 2015 and replaced by Sexual Harm Prevention Orders (SHPOs). There is little difference in the orders (“then why make the change?” I hear you ask) save for the fact that the test is slightly lower, i.e. it is a bit easier for a court to impose the order.
What does that mean for Hall?
Well, he will serve half of the sentence in custody at which point he will be released on licence. He is not eligible for release on HDC as this is sexual offence. He will then serve the remainder of his sentence on licence. If he breaches the licence or commits another offence, he can be recalled to prison to serve all or part of this sentence.
As for the notification or “sex offenders register”, the Mirror appear to have got that wrong too. As the sentence is more than 30 months, Hall will be subject to the notification requirements for life, not 10 years, as reported.
As for the SOPO/SHPO, we dont know how long the order is, but there is a minimum period of five years. Whether it is a SOPO or an SHPO doesn’t really matter for practical purposes, save for the fact that if it was a SOPO and there was no application for the order made before 8 March 2015, the order is unlawful and will need to be varied by the judge who imposed the order (within 56 days) or by the Court of Appeal.