Belfast Telegraph

'Dangerous and violent' convicted rapist loses court battle

Johnston received a 12-year sentence for raping a 17-year-old female in 1995
Johnston received a 12-year sentence for raping a 17-year-old female in 1995

By Alan Erwin

A convicted rapist has lost a High Court battle over being on the sex offenders' register indefinitely.

Stuart Lee Johnston, 43, challenged legislation which requires him to notify police of his address and personal details.

But judges in Belfast ruled that the current arrangements are compatible with human rights legislation.

Johnston, from an undisclosed location in Northern Ireland, received a 12-year sentence for raping a 17-year-old female in 1995.

The trial judge described him as a dangerous and violent young man with "a strong sexual appetite" he could not control.

He was released from custody in November 2001 and then subject to notification requirements under the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

This meant he must inform police of his name, date of birth, accommodation, and any bank accounts, credit cards, passport and identification documents held.

Under the terms of the legislation anyone imprisoned for 30 months or more was subject to notification requirements for an indefinite period.

Johnston challenged the 2003 Act, and subsequent amending legislation, claiming it breached the European Convention on Human Rights and fell outside the legislative competence of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

In 2010, the UK Supreme Court held the existing indefinite notification arrangements were incompatible with the Convention as they did not contain any potential for a review in individual cases.

The Criminal Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 2013 inserted a new clause to provide such a mechanism.

An offender can apply to the Chief Constable to discharge him from the notification requirements at the end of an initial review period.

The court heard Johnston's application was refused in January 2018 for failing to satisfy police it was no longer necessary to remain on the register for public protection.

Dismissing his legal challenge, judges identified the core issue as being the legislation's compatibility with human rights law.

Mrs Justice Keegan said Johnston also had the benefit of a review by an experienced Crown Court judge.

She held: "We consider that the 2013 Act itself is compliant with Convention rights and as such we do not accede to the applicant's primary case to strike down the legislation or declare the legislation incompatible."

With Johnston said to have been given a full and detailed hearing, Mrs Justice Keegan concluded: "It is our clear view that the applicant has been afforded a Convention compliant

procedure but he simply does not agree with the result.

"As such we do not consider that any relief is merited in this case."

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