Page last updated at 19:27 GMT, Thursday, 30 April 2009 20:27 UK

Convicted man avoids sex register

Cardiff Crown Court
Cardiff Crown Court heard Roy Harris followed his victim

A man found guilty of attempting to suffocate a woman in an intended sex attack has been jailed but will not sign the sex offenders register.

A legal loophole means Roy Harris, 46, from Rhondda in the south Wales valleys, will only serve his indeterminate prison sentence.

Harris was arrested after he attempted to abduct a stranger having followed her, Cardiff Crown Court was told.

A campaigner has called for the loophole to be closed.

Harris was convicted by a jury of attempting to suffocate, strangle or choke his victim with intent to commit a sexual offence.

He does not have to register as a sex offender because his offence is not listed in law as one which requires him to do so.

He is eligible for parole after serving three-and-a-half years of his sentence, less the 457 days he has already spent in custody, meaning he could be freed in July 2011.

I have no doubt whatsoever that you pose a significant risk of harm to the public
Judge David Morris

Harris approached his victim from behind after following her down Newport Road in Cardiff in the early hours of 26 January 2008, the court heard.

He then pulled a supermarket carrier bag over her head and pulled it tight across her face before dragging her into an unlit alleyway.

The woman, who was taller than the defendant, managed to resist being thrown to the floor and struggled against her attacker.

The plastic bag on her head became ripped meaning she could breathe and scream for help, which attracted the attention of passer-by Martin Harris and his girlfriend.

Mr Harris saw the defendant running away and managed to tackle him to the ground, holding him with the help of another man until police arrived.

Judge David Morris said: "The facts of the case are highly disturbing. This young woman was a complete stranger to you... you were intending to commit a serious sexual offence upon her if you could.

"Anyone who saw or heard her giving evidence during the trial could not help but be impressed that she remains traumatised to this day.

"I have no doubt whatsoever that you pose a significant risk of harm to the public."

Harris earlier pleaded guilty to a second offence of attempted robbery on the woman, and also had a previous offence of exposing himself in public several years ago.

'Obsession'

The court heard Harris had "an obsession with female genitalia" and doctors' reports said he posed a risk of sexual violence and showed "disinhibited sexual behaviour".

Judge Morris said Harris's physical and mental health was hard to assess because he had repeatedly refused to co-operate with probation officers, doctors and psychologists.

Cathy Cobley, a senior lecturer at Cardiff Law School, said it was an oversight that the offence committed by Harris was not included under schedule three of the Sexual Offences Act.

"If you are convicted of an offence listed under schedule three of the Sexual Offences Act you must sign the sex offenders register," she explained.

Jo Wood, from the charity Rape Crisis England and Wales, said she hoped the case would highlight the loophole so it could be closed before it happened again.

"This man, if he is released from prison, will not be seen as a threat because he is not on the sex offenders register," she said.



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