October 2015

Sex offender loses appeal against indefinite sentence

A man who was jailed more than eight years ago for pestering a teenage girl for sex will stay behind bars indefinitely after losing his appeal.

Phillip John Barham, 56, was jailed in 2008 for asking a teen to perform a sex act in return for cigarettes and vodka in Billingshurst.

Considered a ‘dangerous’ offender, he was sentenced to indefinite imprisonment for public protection (IPP) at Lewes Crown Court.

The self-confessed alcoholic was ordered to serve a minimum of 18 months, but, still in prison, he launched an appeal on Tuesday October 20.

His lawyers argued that the open-ended IPP sentence was unjustified, but three of the country’s top judges rejected the claim and upheld the punishment.

However Lord Justice Elias said there was sufficient evidence that Barham posed a ‘significant risk’ to children.

The Court of Appeal heard he had pulled up in his car while a girl aged under 16 and her friends were sitting on a wall in 2007.

Barham made a sexual comment and agreed to go and buy alcohol and cigarettes in return for a sex act.

However, when he returned, she simply took the items and ran off. He was caught after her friends saw him sitting in his car a couple of weeks later and reported it.

Sentencing, the crown court judge said Barham’s previous offending had helped him decide that he was a danger to children.

He had five convictions for gross indecency, when he had approached people, some of them children, and asked them to perform sex acts.

His lawyers argued that the IPP sentence – from which Barham may never be released – was not necessary.

The offences he had committed were at the lowest level of seriousness and there was no evidence of ‘serious’ harm.

But the appeal judge said: “We do recognise – and it is a matter of concern – that he has now been in prison for some eight years.

“It appears he cannot be released because he has not admitted he has this propensity to deal with young children.”

The indefinite sentence, passed for one count of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, was upheld.