Page last updated at 16:04 GMT, Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Sex attack victim's family 'misled by CPS'

The parents of a seven-year-old girl who was sexually assaulted by a teenager have accused the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) of misleading them about the punishment he would receive.

Scales of Justice
The CPS has said it is reviewing its procedures as a result of the case

The couple from Suffolk said the CPS persuaded them to accept the 15-year-old's guilty plea to having sex with a minor rather than prosecuting him on the original rape charge he faced.

The girl's parents said they were led to believe the boy would be given a custodial sentence despite admitting the lesser charge.

However, he escaped a custodial term and instead was given a referral sentence, a probationary punishment for youth offenders.

"I feel the CPS has really let us down and misled us," the girl's father told BBC Radio Five Live.

As a result of the case, the CPS has said it was "reviewing" its procedures, but the family feel the action has come too late for them.

'Became hysterical'

The attack happened at a barbecue at family home in Suffolk in September 2008.

The boy, a son of a family friend, took the girl to a bedroom to play adult "mummies and daddies", her parents said.

The offence did not come to light until the family began planning a later birthday celebration when the boy would have come back to the house.

We were assured he would get a custodial sentence and would be put on the sex offenders' register but this did not happen
The girl's father

When the girl heard this she became hysterical, and admitted what had happened, stressing how the boy threatened her if she did not keep the attack secret.

During a protracted legal process time the CPS persuaded the parents to accept the boy's plea of guilty of having sex with a minor, said the parents.

"We were assured he would get a custodial sentence and would be put on the sex offenders' register but this did not happen," said the father.

He said that the CPS had told them that if the boy had gone to trial after denying rape, their daughter would have faced the distress of giving evidence in court.

"I believe the boy needs psychiatric help. It is unnatural that he should look at a young girl in a sexual light," the girl's father said.

"Our concern is that the boy could commit other similar offences."

The girl's mother said she still had nightmares and wakes up believing the boy is in her bedroom.

Legal 'anomaly'

Julian Weinberg, a criminal defence lawyer at the firm Shaw Graham Kersh, said referral orders are granted when the sentence is less than 12 months custody and it is a first offence.

"This is a strange anomaly in the law," she said.

"The charge the boy admitted was sex with a minor for which he should have been put on the sex offenders' register.

"But because the sentence was less than 12-months custody this was not possible under the present law."

A CPS spokesperson said: "We are now reviewing internally the procedures followed in this case and it is not appropriate to comment on the case while the review is taking place."

For legal reasons the individuals involved in the case have not been identified.

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