Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Three men taken off sex offenders register after appeal

A man who exposed himself to a woman has won a legal challenge to be taken off the sex offenders register.

Two others who admitted assaulting women have also won appeals against being placed on the register.

Cases relating to notification requirements under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 were heard in Edinburgh.

A senior judge said "a sense of proportion" was needed when considering whether there was a "significant sexual aspect" to an accused's behaviour.

Lord Justice Clerk, Lord Gill, also said the appeals raised a difficult question over the application of the provisions for those offences not included on the specified list of crimes leading to being put on the register.

Specified offences, such as rape, result in a convicted offender being placed on the register. With other crimes, such as breach of the peace, registration can also follow.

One of the assaults involved a man seizing a woman's buttocks as she waited for a taxi, while the other related to an incident on a train in which a man kissed a girl on the lips.

'Grave stigma'

"If the Crown chooses to libel an offence that is not on the specific list ... and libels it without further narrative, the accused is entitled to infer that the Crown makes no suggestion that there is a significant sexual aspect in the accused's behaviour," said Lord Gill.

"Registration as a sex offender is not a sentence. The purpose of registration is not punitive. It is protective.

"It enables the police to keep tabs on a sex offender who is, or who may be a continuing danger to others, and particularly to women and young people.

"Although registration does not constitute a sentence, it is nonetheless a grave stigma and one which, designedly, places onerous restrictions and requirements on the registered offender's life.

"In particular, the offender has the public status of sex offender. He is under a continuing obligation throughout the registration period to inform the police of his whereabouts and to notify them whenever he changes address."

Lord Gill said if prosecutors were going to argue that there was a significant sexual aspect to an offence then fair notice should be given in the terms of the charge.

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