March 2019

Defence barrister asked judge to lock up her client for as long as possible

A defence barrister asked a judge to send a convicted sex offender to prison for a long time because it was what he wanted.

The unusual request for the judge to spare any leniency and be as harsh as possible was to enable Tommy Southam to have the treatment he needed to prevent further offending.

The 25-year-old pleaded guilty to sexual activity with a 14-year-old boy, and to breaching a sexual harm prevention order that was imposed previously for an earlier sex offence upon a different child.

The defendant had contacted the under-age teenager via social media and arranged to meet him.

Leicester Crown Court was told that Southam, formerly of Ravenstone, Coalville, drove to meet the 14-year-old, who willingly got into his car.

James Varley, prosecuting, said: “The defendant had contacted the boy via Instagram and accepts it was grooming behaviour.

“It is also accepted by the prosecution that the meeting between them was consensual.

“There was a consensual kiss between them in the car.”

The victim was said to have been going through emotional turmoil and was particularly “vulnerable”.

The court heard that the defendant’s previous conviction for a sexual offence against a boy under 13 resulted in him being placed on an indefinite sexual harm prevention order, banning him from having unsupervised contact with children under 16.

In 2014, Southam breached the order by texting another 14-year-old.

Mr Varley said the latest offending was “deliberate targeting of a young boy”, who got into his car, albeit consensually.

Mitigating for the defendant, barrister Katya Saudek told Judge Ebraham Mooncey: “He wants a custodial sentence and he wants it to be of sufficient length to do the courses that he hasn’t previously had access to.

“The figure, I suggest, should be at the upper end of the sentencing guidelines.

“That’s what he wants as he’s desperate to get the treatment he needs.”

She said Southam wanted to address his issues and needed to attend the prison service’s specialist sex offenders’ course to prevent him from offending in the future.

Miss Saudek said: “The sentence would be at the upper end, and may I suggest he would need a minimum of three years to qualify for the course.”

She said it would involve Southam’s transfer to a prison elsewhere in the country that specialised in such rehabilitative measures.

Judge Mooncey said: “It’s very worrying to have such a young man before the court.

“I’ve read a letter from your parents.

“You have quite a lot of support from your family and it’s a real pity you’ve committed these offences.

“You aren’t asking for leniency – not that I was thinking to give you much leniency in any event.

“Had Miss Saudek asked for more mercy, it’s likely I would not be giving it.

“A sexual harm prevention order is already in existence.

“You really need to address these issues early, while you’re young, and you may be able to do that with the services envisaged.”

Southam was jailed for a total of three years.