Scars clears hurdle over paedophile release

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  • Legal review: Jonathan Cumberbatch was released from prison in February (Photograph supplied)

    Legal review: Jonathan Cumberbatch was released from prison in February (Photograph supplied)


A child sex abuse prevention charity has cleared another hurdle in its bid to fight the release of a high-risk paedophile from jail.

Saving Children and Revealing Secrets applied to the Supreme Court for a judicial review of the decision to release Jonathan Cumberbatch from prison after he served two thirds of a 12-year sentence for sex crimes against children.

Permission for the review was given earlier this year and now Puisne Judge Shade Subair Williams has granted the charity a protective costs order, which means it will not have to pay the Government’s costs if it loses the civil case.

Lawyer Saul Dismont, representing Scars, said: “Without the order, they wouldn’t have been able to continue because of the cost implications.

“It means the charity is now in a position to proceed with the substantive matter, which is the determination of the Prison Act 1979 and whether there is the power to hold someone longer than two thirds of their sentence.

“Scars is trying to clarify that to protect children and the public generally.”

Cumberbatch was released from Westgate prison in February.

Kathy Lynn Simmons, the Attorney-General, took the unusual step of issuing a warning to the public, describing the 55-year-old sex offender as being “of the highest risk to the community”.

Wayne Caines, national security minister, said: “Regrettably, there is no legal mechanism currently available to further detain him in prison.”

Scars disagreed with Mr Caines’s view and started civil proceedings against the Attorney-General on the grounds that section 12 of the Prison Act allowed for the conditional release of a prisoner.

The charity will argue that instead of a prisoner being granted automatic and unconditional release from prison after serving two thirds of their sentence, they could be released with conditions at any time on or after one third of their prison sentence.

Mr Dismont, of law firm Marshall Diel & Myers, has previously said that Cumberbatch was understood not to have taken part in appropriate treatment for child sex offenders while in prison.

A condition of his release could have been that he underwent treatment, according to Scars. Further conditions could have banned Cumberbatch from being alone with children and allowed him to be supervised upon his release.

In March, the High Court in London quashed a decision by the parole board to release serial rapist John Worboys after he had served ten years of an indeterminate prison sentence.

The English parole board claimed it had no choice but to release Worboys.

But the judges, in upholding a legal challenge by two of his victims, ordered the parole board to hold a new hearing and Worboys was returned to prison.

Scars, in its lawsuit, is asking the court to decide on the correct interpretation of section 12 of the Act.

Mr Caines said in February: “The safety of young people in particular is paramount in our considerations and through the work of the Ministry of Legal Affairs we expect to bring amendments to relevant laws that will increase the powers of the criminal justice system in these terrible cases.”

Ms Simmons did not respond to a request for comment yesterday.

It is The Royal Gazette’s policy not to allow comments on stories regarding court cases. As we are legally liable for any libellous or defamatory comments made on our website, this move is for our protection as well as that of our readers.

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