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Representations made to CPS in sex dolls case

Freddie Sail trainee solicitor
Trainee solicitor and Crown Court litigator Freddie Sail

Crown Court Litigator and trainee solicitor Freddie Sail recently prepared a case for trial at Nottingham Crown Court for a client who faced two allegations of importing what were said to be child-like sex dolls into the UK.

The case shows that often written advocacy can be as important as what is said in court.

A gap in the law on child-like sex dolls?

There is an apparent gap in the law in relation to such items.  For example, it is not illegal to simply possess a child-like sex doll.  As a result, the prosecution choose to bring proceedings under section 50(3) Customs and Excise Management Act 1979 where the item has been brought into the country.

This states, simply, that it is an offence for a person to import any goods contrary to any prohibition with the intention to evade that prohibition.

The prohibition that catches child-like sex dolls is under section 42  Customs Consolidation Act 1876 which states:

“The goods enumerated and described in the following table of prohibitions and restrictions inwards are hereby prohibited to be imported or brought into the United Kingdom.”

The ‘table of prohibition’ includes:

“Indecent or obscene prints, paintings, photographs, books, cards, lithographic or other engravings, or any other indecent or obscene articles.”

You can read more about this aspect of the law here.

New prosecution guidance on child-like sex dolls

sex dollsEarlier this year, new guidance was issued about the evidence that would be needed to bring a successful prosecution and broader public interest consideration.  You can read more about this here.

Freddie saw that the guidance had been issued.  He took the opportunity to review his client’s case.  This was to see whether steps should be taken to ask the prosecution to look again at whether his client should be prosecuted.

His client denied from the outset the two crucial elements of the offence.  Fundamentally, he denied that the doll was representative of a child.  He had bought it as depicting an adult.  Secondly, he was unaware of any prohibition relating to the importation of child-like sex dolls in any event.

Written representations to the CPS

Having looked at the case together with the guidance Freddie wrote a persuasive letter to the Crown Prosecution Service, asking a lawyer to review the evidence.

In brief, he stressed the following factors:

  • the prosecution was not in line with the new guidance
  • ‘expert’ evidence in this case should not be relied upon
  • there were sufficient features of the doll to mean that it was not ‘unquestionably’ a portrayal of a child
  • a lack of evidence suggesting our client was aware of any prohibition
  • the advertising of the items as ‘adult sexy dolls’

This communication with the prosecution was referred to by Freddie on the trial readiness form.

sex doll

No evidence offered following the review

Freddie’s representation were successful.  The prosecution accepted that in the light of the new guidance the case should not be pursued to trial.  The matter was listed quickly and no evidence was offered.

Freddie’s client was overjoyed when the not guilty verdicts were announced.

Contact a criminal law specialist

If you are arrested or know that the police wish to speak to you about any offending arising out of the importation of a child-like sex doll or any other item make sure you insist on your right to free and independent legal advice.  The courts are always likely to take such offences seriously upon conviction.

The advantages of such early advice legal advice can be found here.

If you have already been interviewed or face court proceedings we can still make a real difference to the outcome of your case.

Legal aid may well be available to fund your defence at court.

We have offices across the East Midlands and will happily travel across the country to provide representation for all football related offences.

assisting an offender
VHS Fletchers offices across the East Midlands

Alternatively you can contact us using the form below.

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