A sex offender should be jailed for allegedly defying the orders of a court to stay away from a former girlfriend who has a learning disability, a judge was told yesterday.
Leslie Whiting, who was convicted in 2009 of grabbing another female – a vulnerable teenager – in a park and performing a sex act, is accused of making repeated phone calls to the woman and coercing her into visiting his home, in breach of injunctions issued by the Court of Protection.
He was made the subject of a series of court orders between 2011 and this January barring him from contacting his former girlfriend, who cannot be named for legal reasons, following evidence that she had suffered domestic violence at their home in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire.
Established six years ago, the Court of Protection is responsible for ruling on behalf of individuals who lack the ability or “mental capacity” to make informed decisions about their lives.
The court has been accused of “secrecy” and making too many of its decisions behind closed doors. The criticism has prompted an acknowledgement from its senior judge Mr Justice Charles that the court needs to place more of its rulings and proceedings in the public domain.
While Court of Protection judges are used to making rulings on difficult subjects to safeguard vulnerable people, it is unusual for it to be asked to consider imprisoning someone for breaching its orders.
In proceedings brought by Peterborough City Council, Whiting, 54, is accused of having “pestered and coerced” his ex-girlfriend, who now lives in local-authority care, into seeing him last year despite an injunction banning him from all communication with her.
Mary Lazarus, for the counsel, told the court that the pair had been a couple for three years until 2008 but the relationship then fell apart and Whiting had subsequently been in contempt of court by repeatedly calling the woman and eventually persuading her to visit his home.
While the former girlfriend has the capacity to consent to sexual relations, she lacks the ability “to work out with whom she should be having such contact”, the lawyer added.
Whiting has refused to co-operate with the proceedings against him and was not present in court.
The judge, Mr Justice Hayden, said he would rule on the case next week but added he expected to criticise the local authority for “glaring deficiencies” in the way the case against Whiting had been presented.