A-G: Paedophiles ‘treated more severely’ in Jersey since 2016
THE Island is already tougher in sentencing paedophiles on some offences than the UK, Attorney General Robert MacRae has said in response to an online petition calling for offenders to face more prison time.
The petition launched by paedophile hunter Cheyenne O’Connor – whose online investigations have led to 12 successful convictions in Jersey – has gathered over 1,900 signatures in its first six days.
It calls for a mandatory minimum sentence of three years for those ‘found guilty of abusing, or attempting to abuse, our children’ and for offenders to be placed on the Sex Offenders Register for life.
Mr MacRae said Jersey, as an independent jurisdiction, is not bound by UK sentencing guidelines but does turn to them for ‘assistance’ when assessing the seriousness of sexual offences against both adults and children.
A number of factors related to the offence are taken into consideration before his office will ask for a particular sentence in court, he added.
‘The Attorney General plays a central role in achieving consistency of treatment between offenders,’ Mr MacRae said. ‘He, or a Crown Advocate acting on his behalf, will assist the Royal Court by providing sentencing guidance in the form of “conclusions” at sentencing hearings.
‘Those conclusions seek a sentence appropriate to the facts of the case, the maximum sentence available, and similar past cases determined by the Royal Court and Jersey Court of Appeal.’
While the Crown makes recommendations, the Jurats ultimately decide on the sentence, based on what has been presented to them.
‘Sentencing policy can alter from time to time,’ Mr MacRae added, but since 2016, the court has accepted that ‘sexual offences involving children should be treated more severely’.
‘Royal Court decisions since 2016 have consistently shown this to be the case,’ he said.
And Jersey already takes a harder line on offenders found with indecent images of children.
‘In relation to offences involving possession of and distribution of indecent images of children, the Royal Court’s sentencing policy, in accordance with clear guidelines followed by the Jersey courts, is to impose sentences which are significantly more severe than those which would be imposed in England and Wales for similar offences,’ Mr MacRae said.
As of yesterday, Ms O’Connor’s petition had been waiting for a ministerial response for three days, having quickly gathered the 1,000 signatures set as a baseline to trigger a response.
It is the third most supported petition of the 57 currently open on the States website.
‘The people of Jersey are sick and tired of seeing paedophiles either found guilty of abusing, or attempting to abuse, our children being handed lenient prison sentences (if any prison sentence) by the Jersey courts,’ it reads.
The petition will remain open until July and needs 5,000 signatures to be considered for a debate in the States Assembly.