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Pensioner Who Kissed Schoolgirl Has Town Ban Lifted
7:01am 12th June 2014
A Plymouth pensioner who was banned from Tavistock on Saturdays after he kissed a 12-year-old girl has had the restriction lifted - after top judges said it was 'unnecessary and disproportionate'.
Leslie Clarkson was forbidden from going into the market town on that day of the week for eight years by Judge Paul Darlow, who said his victim should be able to go out without the fear of seeing him.
But the 75-year-old is now free to roam the area on Saturdays, after judges at London's Criminal Appeal Court ruled the 'blanket restriction' was not needed and didn't take into account the 'healing effects' of time and maturity on the victim.
The judges also reduced an eight-year ban which prevented him from going within 400 yards of the victim's home to one year, but said she will be protected by a court order which forbids Clarkson indefinitely from having any contact with her, or other girls under 16.
Clarkson, of Alexandra Road, Mutley, was handed a suspended sentence at Plymouth Crown Court in December last year, after admitting sexual assault on a child under 13.
In addition, he was banned from entering Tavistock on Saturdays, and from going within a 400-yard radius of the victim's home, for eight years.
The court heard that, in September last year, he repeatedly kissed the victim and said to her: "I like kissing, you do too, you like kissing me."
Following his arrest, he said he didn't have any sexual intentions but he later accepted his behaviour was 'concerning' and may have scared her.
While this was his first conviction, there had previously been complaints made to police about his 'inappropriate behaviour towards young girls', the court heard.
His victim was left feeling 'vile and disgusted' by the incident, and suffered lasting psychological damage.
Judge Darlow considered that, despite his previous wrongdoing, his risk could be managed in the community with the two prohibitions he included in the sexual offences prevention order.
Clarkson's lawyers argued the terms of the order were unnecessary and were both oppressive and disproportionate.
They said he had moved away from Tavistock immediately after his arrest and argued that keeping the eight-year restriction in place would mean he was unable to return to his home despite being elderly and in poor health.
Quashing the order, Mrs Justice Cox said that Clarkson's risk could be dealt with by making an order that he must not have any contact with the victim or any other girl under 16.
Sitting with Judge Clement Goldstone QC, she added: "Such a blanket restriction on the appellant's ability to enter any part of Tavistock town at any time, on any Saturday for a period of eight years was, in our view, unnecessary and disproportionate.
"The effect of the other order is to prohibit this appellant for eight years from returning to his own home, where he was living with his wife at the time of the offence, and both he and his wife are elderly and suffer from ill health.
"We consider that the judge did not have sufficient regard to the healing effects of the passage of time and the increasing maturity and resilience of the victim.
"Further, the risks which the judge rightly found to exist would, in our view, be properly addressed by an order preventing the appellant from contacting, or attempting to contact, the victim or any other female under 16."
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