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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 70401
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Hi, I am unfortunately in a very precarious situation and

Customer Question

Hi,

I am unfortunately in a very precarious situation and I really need some urgent advice on the severity of it from the perspective of the law.

After a family event, whilst highly intoxicated, I sent a number of messages via a social networking site to one of the children who was present at the party. The child is 13 1/2 year old girl and I am a 30 year old man.

The messages were not sexual by nature in anyway but could be interpreted as suggestive, e.g. "What time do your parents go to bed", "Do you want to sneak out for a spin in the car" etc.

Have I potentially broken a law, and if so which law and what penalty or outcome could I be facing?

Thank you for your help.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.

Jo C. :

Hi. Thank you for your question. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will try to help with this. Has someone complained about you?

Customer:

Thank you Jo.

Not to the police but a complaint has been made by the mother of the girl to the father of the girl.

Basically, the girls parents are divorced, I am friends with the father (he is engaged to my cousin) - the mother has complained to him and right now I am in limbo as we do not know which course of action she will take although she mentioned taking me to court - she has a volatile history and is very strong financially.

Jo C. :

when you say a volatile history, do you mean that she makes allegations of abuse all over the place?

Customer:

The divorce was very messy and there was a lot of bad sentiment between the two parents, she blocked his rights to see them over a period of time over minor things.
She has also become violent and abusive toward him on several occasions.


Jo C. :

Has she made allegations of abuse?

Customer:

She made an allegation previously toward the father because he let his daughter sleep in his bed, but I am not aware of anything otherwise, although I do not know all the details.

Customer:

I should not the allegation was more likely to be of inappropriate behaviour than abuse.

Customer:

note*

Jo C. :

The messages that you describe are not unlawful.

Jo C. :

There's nothing explicit in them so cannot amount to a lewd act.

Jo C. :

I suppose they could be interpreted as the first act of grooming but you haven't completed the offence so its not made out.

Jo C. :

Obviously she may very well be screaming fire and brimstone on the point and she does have form for doing that but the police can only act if you have done something unlawful

Jo C. :

Even if suggesting that you sneak out for a spin is an attempt to arrange contact I don't think your actions prior amount to grooming

Customer:

Thanks for your help Jo, it's much appreciated.

Jo C. :

No problem and all the best. Remember that I am always available to help with your questions. Even if I am in Court I will usually pick up a question within 12 hours. For future information, please start your question with ‘For Jo C’.

Customer:

Sorry Jo, one more thing I needed to clarify, at the moment, the mother has told the father that he is not allowed to see his kids again until the matter is resolved (this is has only happened yesterday).

Would there be a legal or what have you avenue for her using this situation to prevent access for him?

Jo C. :

Not unless he is going to expose her to you in the future. He needs to get a court order to stop her using this type of nonsense.

Customer:

Yes, we already understand that we won't be able to be in contact again in future as families because of this.
OK, thank-you for your advise.

Customer:

advice*

Jo C. :

No problem.

Jo C. :

All the best

Jo C. and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Jo,


 


Before I go any further, thank-you for the previous advice, and I'd just like to confirm for anyone else reading this that your advice was correct and the messages I had been involved with were not unlawful.


 


However, as I mentioned previously, due to the nature of this complainant, I was unfortunately arrested at home several days after, and all my computer equipment was seized.


 


After consulting with a solicitor and conducting a formal interview, it was confirmed both that the arrest/search was a 'knee-jerk' reaction by the police, and the messages I was involved with were not unlawful although obviously as I mentioned previously were not very appropriate.

I have now been released on bail while a raft of mine and my family equipment is examined by computer forensics. I have been told they are looking for any messages to children (there are none) and any indecent images of children (again, there are none). Based on this, my solicitor has told me to literally relax for the next 6 weeks whilst on bail.


 


However, my concern now is if any indecent pictures are present on the machines (highly unlikely, but I am paranoid) - what would this result in - obviously there would be a charge relating to any indecent material found, but would this also 'make out' the initial bail charge of 'grooming' - or would it be a separate charge and the grooming charge would still remain not 'made out'?

Thank you for your on-going assistance.


 

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
What are you on bail for?

They didn't arrest you for grooming over this twaddle?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Jo,


 


Yes, they arrested me at my house for grooming, and then conducted the 'search of premises' based on me being arrested immediately.


 


Both the solicitor who attended me, and the CID Detective handling the case said it was not a normal response and had been due to the behaviour of the complainant (ridiculous, I know).

They arrested me at the time for 'attempting to make contact with a child under 16' - ironically not an actual law, but the CID Detective confirmed it was actually under the offence of 'grooming'. I believe I am currently on unconditional bail for the offence of grooming, but I was told if nothing was found on the equipment that there would be no charge at the end of it all. Although this should be OK, it doesn't bring much comfort to my wife and our worries for our family.


Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
The problem with this is that they have to respond to complaints that are made.

If they find any indecent images then that may well lead to a separate charge but its still not grooming.

Its not enough to find an indecent image. They have to show its unlawful - e.g of a child or extreme pornography.

What a waste of money.