Sex offender loses freedom bid
A sex offender from Yorkshire has lost a freedom bid at one of Europe's highest courts.
John Dillon from Cottingley Drive, Morley, sexually assaulted a 15-year-old girl while out on licence for indecently assaulting other girls. He was ordered to serve at least four years in prison after his conviction in April 2007.
He took a legal challenge to the European Court of Human Rights arguing that his continued detention was unlawful. The HMP Whatton inmate claimed poor organisation of prison courses meant he could not demonstrate to parole chiefs that he posed less risk.
But the panel of seven judges ruled: "The Court is satisfied that a real opportunity for rehabilitation was provided to the applicant and that there was no unreasonable delay in providing him access to assessments and courses."
Dillon, currently detained in the Nottingham jail, had been given an indeterminate sentence for public protection following his conviction for sexual assault, the judges said. He was given a minimum tariff period of four years, West Yorkshire Police said.
His release after the expiry of this tariff period was subject to the approval of the Parole Board, the European Court's judgement said.
Dillon completed the core Sex Offenders Treatment Programme (SOTP) in March 2009 and had been assessed as suitable for the extended SOTP. But then the prison authorities concluded that he was insufficiently motivated to undertake the extended course.
The inmate complained that the only way that he could address the risk he presented to the public was by completing the extended SOTP, but his access to this course had been delayed.
The European judges concluded that prompt steps were taken to begin the applicant's progression through the prison system, even before the expiry of his minimum tariff.
"The nine-month delay between the expiry of his tariff and his reassessment for the SOTP was not unreasonable having regard to the access to courses which he had enjoyed by that date, the continued efforts to ensure further progress through the prison system and his overall progression throughout the period of his detention.
"In these circumstances the Court is satisfied that a real opportunity for rehabilitation was provided to the applicant and that there was no unreasonable delay in providing him access to assessments and courses."
Reacting to the decision, prisons minister Andrew Selous said: " We are pleased with the judgment which recognises the work this government is doing to rehabilitate offenders while protecting the public.
"Making sure all prisoners get the support they need to turn away from crime is vital in reducing reoffending and making our communities safer."