We represented a client who suffering severe learning difficulties was found by a jury to have outraged public decency by asking young females on public transport to let him touch their feet. Because medical experts found him unfit to plead and stand trial, the evidence, in this case, was heard by a jury who simply has to consider the unchallenged evidence that he carried out the acts alleged. At these hearings, the defendant does not put his or her defence across as it is said by psychiatrists that their learning difficulties are such that they are not able to do so.
The jury found that the defendant committed the offence that he was accused of but the process does not amount to a criminal conviction.
It was therefore manifestly unfair that the press considered it appropriate to report that the Mr Reilly was convicted, without spelling out the fact that he did not formally raise a defence.
At the sentencing hearing, the press was asked in open court by Mr Black to show a little more accuracy and sensitivity in the reporting. Unsurprisingly they didn’t allow that to get in the way of a good story:
The prosecution sought to make Mr Reilly subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for a period of five years to prevent him travelling unaccompanied by an appropriate adult . This was deemed too disproportionate. A Criminal Behaviour Order was instead imposed for a period of 2 years however we then established that because hrs defendant wasn’t convicted such an order was not lawful and successfully applied to the court to discharge it
In the meantime Mr Reilly has to live with the misreporting of the conviction and the order imposed upon him . It doesn’t matter the background or disabilities of our clients , everyone has the right for their reputations to be protected within the wider community .
We heard recently, Paul Gambaccini and Christopher Jefferies , how allegations and reporting by the press can ruin lives or at least lead to destruction of reputations.