June 2022

Child rapist walked free from court because he has dementia

A child rapist has walked free from court today because he has dementia which meant he could not stand trial.

A jury in a fact finding hearing at Liverpool Crown Court determined John Fisher (pictured in the grey tracksuit) had subjected two girls to a campaign of rape and sexual assault for years and found him guilty of all the offences he had faced

Yet the paedophile could not be jailed as he was not formally convicted of the offences due to his health conditions.

A fact finding hearing is a type of hearing in which the judge would consider allegations and to decide important issues that are in dispute to determine whether an alleged incident took place or not.

The judge will determine if the offender had committed the offences or not.

But no conviction can be made.

Michael Scholes, prosecuting, said Fisher committed rape and sexual assaults on two girls throughout the 1990s and early 2000s.

Liverpool Crown Court heard his victims reported the crimes years later and the 75 year old was charged.

He said in a crown court hearing last year that he would fight the charges but a number of medical assessments found he was unfit to stand trial after being diagnosed with vascular dementia.

In a rare move, Fisher’s case was then put before a jury in what is known as a fact finding hearing. Mr Scholes said: “The jury found that in fact the defendant had done the acts and that the victims were telling the truth.”

While juries in these hearings make a judgement on the facts of a case in a similar way to those in a trial, they cannot convict.

Instead, defendants in these cases are sentenced by a judge on the basis of the jury’s findings – but the lack of a conviction means the court’s power to punish is severely restricted.

The only options in Fisher’s case were to detain him in hospital, hand him a supervision order or discharge him.

Doctors said he was unsuitable for a hospital order and, at a previous hearing, Judge Anil Murray said a discharge, which would see no further action taken, would be unsuitable because Fisher needed the supervision of support workers.

Judge Anil Murray sentenced Fisher to a two year suspension order, the maximum. He raised concerns about Fisher’s behaviour in recent years and said he still posed a risk to the public.

He said: “Whilst the most recent offence in this case was 20 years ago there is evidence that you have behaved in a sexually inappropriate way towards staff at the unit where you were residing as well as members of the public.”

Fisher, previously of Webster Avenue in Wallasey, was handed a two year supervision order.

He was also given a restraining order which prevents him from contacting his victims for ten years and a sexual harm prevention order that places restrictions on him for the same period of time.

He will be subject to the notification requirements for sex offenders for five years.