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Community Order - Attempted Sexual Communication with a Child - Magistrates' Court 2024

Community Order – Attempted Sexual Communication with a Child – Magistrates’ Court 2024

Our Client was charged with Attempted Sexual Communication with a Child contrary to section 1(1) of the Criminal Attempts Act 1981 and section 15A of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and was required to appear before the Magistrates’ Court. The allegation related to an incident on the online platforms of Chat Avenue and Snapchat where our client engaged in communications of a sexual nature with an undercover police officer posing as a 13-year-old child.

Our client contacted us prior to being charged but after his initial arrest and police interview. He instructed us to undertake pre-charge engagement where we advised him on his legal position and the strength of the evidence against him. Upon our client’s request, we arranged and attended a conference with a barrister who specialises in sexual offences to obtain a further opinion on the case.

As our client went into his police interview without legal representation, and the case against him was extremely strong, charging was almost inevitable. However, we explored every possible avenue of avoiding this, including submitting written representations to the police and the Crown Prosecution Service, whilst being honest with our client about the realistic prospect of their success. When our client was ultimately charged, we attended the police station with him and supported him in person. Our frank advice regarding the high likelihood of him being charged allowed us to adopt a proactive approach and begin preparation for his court case way in advance of the charge.

Our client's instructions were that he had logged onto Chat Avenue following and had sought to speak with a female over the age of 16. However, as there was no one of age online at the time, our client made the mistake of pursuing a conversation with a person claiming to be 13 years old. He was in a state of poor mental health at the time. We therefore advised our client to plead guilty at the earliest opportunity as this would entitle him to full credit of a third reduction in any sentence he received.

We instructed an experienced barrister to represent our client at his first court appearance, and we attended court to be on hand throughout. Our client entered a guilty plea, and counsel made submissions to successfully keep the case within the jurisdiction of the Magistrates’ Court rather than it being sent to the Crown Court for sentence. This was important to our client as he wished to have the case concluded swiflty and receive the lowest possible sentence.

Additionally, at our client’s first appearance, we made a successful application to vary the conditions of his bail. This meant that he was able to return home to living with his wife and daughter having spent the last 4 months living away due to his pre-charge bail conditions. Having never been to court before, our client was extremely nervous, but walked away from the hearing feeling positive and supported.

Prior to our client’s sentencing hearing, we worked tirelessly to prepare mitigation in order to secure the best outcome possible for him. In doing so, we instructed-


  • A forensic psychologist to conduct an assessment and prepare a report on his mental health.
  • Contacted character witnesses and took references from them.
  • Prepared a detailed brief for counsel outlining our client’s background and good character.

Our client’s offending fell into Category 2A on the Sentencing Guidelines for Sexual Communication with a Child, which has a starting point of 1 year’s imprisonment. However, the barrister instructed by us made powerful submissions as to our client’s previous clean record, genuine remorse, and proactive attitude to rehabilitation. After retiring to consider the sentence, the parties were called back into Court where the Magistrates sentenced our client to an 18-month Community Order. Further, our client was not made subject to any Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) which could have potentially made his life very complicated.

The Magistrates stated that they had decided not to impose a custodial sentence because of our client’s guilty plea, heartfelt character references, and previous good character as detailed in the barrister’s submissions. As a result of our honest and realistic advice, as well as intense preparation and hard work from the moment we were instructed, our client managed to avoid a prison sentence altogether, and can now begin to rebuild his life having had a tough wake-up call and learnt from his mistake.



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