A man who was acquitted of rape but still has to give police 24 hours notice before he has sex with a new partner is now living in a tent in the woods after being made homeless.
John O’Neill is due to appear in court today to have the order lifted, while North Yorkshire Police will apply to the district judge sitting at York Magistrates’ Court to make the order permanent.
The 45-year-old was made subject to an interim Sexual Risk Order, with a number of conditions attached, even though he was cleared of rape following a retrial in November.
The former IT consultant is currently sleeping rough on the outskirts of York.
He told the BBC that he has been homeless in the past and he “thought all this was behind me”.
“To have to go back to it, it has been a bit of a shock,” he said.
O’Neill told the BBC that he was advised to declare himself unavailable for work because of the order’s restrictions, which included making available to police any communications device he uses, such as computers or telephones.
As a result he was was reportedly prevented from applying for jobs in which he would need to use an office computer or telephone.
O’Neill has also been told that he is no longer eligible for Universal Credit, meaning that he cannot receive legal aid so has had to represent himself in court.
The order has been criticised for being highly unusual and difficult to police.
Eleanor Laws QC, who specialises in prosecuting and defending sex offences, spoke to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Friday.
She said that the orders are tailored to the level of risk that is thought to be prevalent and the order “must be proportionate to that level of risk”.
She said: “In order to lift an order like that you have to make it very clear that you were acquitted, you have to ask the police to make it clear upon what they are basing their submissions that he is a danger, bearing in mind that he was acquitted, and secondly that the order is proportionate to the risk.
“And thirdly the order has to be capable of being policed.”
O’Neill, who has previously admitted to having an interest in sado-masochism and used to attend a Fifty Shades of Grey-style fetish club, claimed the order breached his human rights and said he had no prospect of forming a relationship while he lived by its terms.
The former mature English Literature student, a single father of two, said his history of S and M sex was brought up at the rape trial, including evidence from a doctor with whom he had discussed his past.
He claimed the doctor misunderstood what he was discussing, saying she was confused about what he wanted to do and what was just fantasy.
Police thought what he told the doctor was confession, he claimed.
He said he had no criminal record, “not even a parking ticket”.
Other conditions include him having to hand over the PIN for his mobile phone to police, and not to use internet-connected devices which cannot be later checked by officers.
He has previously said: “I don’t have a life, I cannot work, I cannot have any form of relationship, it’s absolutely ridiculous.”
North Yorkshire Police was expected to outline its arguments for making the order permanent at the hearing.
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