Freedom bid by Leeds sex offender rejected

Peadophile John Dillon
Peadophile John Dillon
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A sex offender from Leeds has lost a freedom bid at one of Europe’s highest courts.

John Dillon, of Cottingley Drive, sexually assaulted a 15-year-old girl while out on licence for indecently assaulting other girls and was ordered to serve at least four years in prison. He took a legal challenge to the European Court of Human Rights arguing that his continued detention was unlawful.

The HMP Whatton inmate claimed poor organisation of prison courses meant he could not demonstrate to parole chiefs he posed less risk.

But the seven-judge panel ruled they were “satisfied that a real opportunity for rehabilitation was provided to the applicant and that there was no unreasonable delay in providing him access to assessments and courses”.

Dillon was given an indeterminate sentence for the public protection after his conviction for sexual assault in 2007.

Leeds Crown Court heard at the time Dillon, then 51, played Santa at a children’s party to gain the trust of parents. He assaulted a 15-year-old girl while on licence after a three-year-and-nine-months sentence passed in 2002 for eight indecent assaults on girls under 16. A judge ordered him to serve a minimum of four years. His release after this was subject to the approval of the Parole Board, the European Court’s judgement said.

Dillon completed the Sex Offenders Treatment Programme (SOTP) in 2009 and had been assessed as suitable for the extended SOTP but prison authorities concluded he was insufficiently motivated for the course.

The inmate complained the only way that he could address his risk to the public was by completing the extended SOTP, but his access to this course had been delayed. But the European judges ruled prompt steps were taken for his progression through the prison system, even before the expiry of his minimum tariff.

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