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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

Teacher who arranged for sexual abuse of children jailed for life


A teacher who arranged for children in the Philippines to be sexually abused while he watched online from his UK home has been jailed.

Paul O'Neill, 57, admitted multiple child sex offences against children as young as four and was jailed for life with a minimum term of 12 years at Nottingham Crown Court today (June 16).

Among the offences O'Neill admitted were three rape charges, which the CPS was able to bring despite the offending taking place thousands of miles away.

Although the children were abused in the Philippines, the CPS prosecutor advised the police at an early stage of their investigation that it would be possible to prosecute O'Neill for procuring the abuse, using the computer evidence seized in this country.

Examination of his computers revealed the extent of his activities. When transcribed, there were 14,000 pages of chat logs. These showed that he had paid for the abuse to take place and given graphic instructions about what scenes should be depicted.

The court also heard how O'Neill, from Nottingham, continued searching for child abuse material online even after his computer equipment had been seized by the police.

Charlotte Caulton-Scott, from the CPS, said: "Paul O'Neill presented himself as a respectable citizen through his role as a teacher and work in the community. But behind closed doors he was spending thousands of pounds on exploiting children and putting them through abuse for his own sexual gratification.

"The CPS charged and prosecuted O'Neill for multiple offences of which the most serious were the counts of rape and conspiracy to rape. O'Neill may have been thousands of miles away but because the offences were taking place on his instigation, with him issuing instructions about what was to take place, he was guilty of the offences himself.

"O'Neill treated his victims as commodities, hiding behind the perceived anonymity of the internet, but these were real children suffering horrendous abuse at his direction."


Notes to Editors

  1. Where the offences that O'Neill commissioned did not involve rape, charges of causing a child to engage in penetrative sexual activity and other offences, including arranging the commission of child sexual offences were used when it was not clear what activity had actually taken place.
  2. Charlotte Caulton-Scott is a district crown prosecutor from the CPS East Midlands rape and serious sexual offences team.
  3. For the latest in breaking news from the CPS Press Office follow @cpsuk on Twitter and visit our official News Brief -
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