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Sexual Offences

The Sexual Offences Act 2003 updated the law, much of which dated back to 1956.

The main provisions of the Act include the following:

  • Rape is widened to include oral penetration
  • Significant changes to the issue of consent
  • Specific offences relating to children under 13, 16 and 18
  • Offences to protect vulnerable persons with a mental disorder
  • Other miscellaneous offences
  • Strengthening the notification requirements and providing new civil preventative orders

Find out more about how we prosecute sexual offences

Sex tourist jailed after CPS advice


A concert pianist has become the first person to be convicted under Britain's new "sex tourism" laws following advice provided to police by CPS London.

Brian Parnell, 66, was jailed for two years for attempting to incite an under-age boy in Sri Lanka to commit buggery.

The musician, who trained at London's Royal Academy, posted a message on an Internet chatroom called Gay Teens of Sri Lanka weeks before he was due to travel to the country with a touring opera company.

But his e-mail, asking to meet a "young and active" boy, was intercepted by Sri Lanka's National Child Protection Authority, which used an undercover officer posing as a 15-year-old boy to reply.

After he was contacted by the "teenager", Parnell sent him sexually explicit messages and obscene photographs of himself.

Interviewed by Sri Lankan police when he arrived in the capital Colombo, he admitted sending the e-mails.

Under local law, his actions did not amount to an offence and police could only ask him to leave the country.

But they reported the matter to the British High Commission, which called in Scotland Yard. Metropolitan Police officers arrested him after raiding his London home and seizing his computer.

On the advice of reviewing lawyer Carl Kelvin, from Wood Green Trials Unit, North Sector, CPS London, he was charged under the Sexual Offences (Conspiracy and Incitement) Act 1996, which allows the prosecution of UK citizens suspected of committing sex crimes abroad.

Carl, SCP, who was helped by caseworker Lawrence Howard, said: "Although he admitted the offences to Sri Lankan police, the defence argued that those admissions be excluded."

The judge, however, dismissed the defence application.

During the two-day trial at Wood Green Crown Court, North London, seven witnesses from Sri Lanka gave evidence.

They included an expert in Sri Lankan law, who explained that while the act Parnell attempted to incite - buggery - was an offence under Sri Lankan law, the country did not have an offence of incitement to commit the act.

This evidence supported the prosecution's argument that the substantive act was an offence in Sri Lanka.

Parnell, who had denied the two charges, was ordered to be placed on licence for three years after his release. His name will be added to the Sex Offenders Register.

Judge Kenneth Zucker told him: "There is increasing concern about men from wealthy countries exploiting and corrupting under-age boys and girls in poorer countries, using their superior financial situation to do so."