A “dangerous” Spalding sex offender who was jailed indefinitely for an attack on a young woman had his potentially lifelong sentence quashed by top judges today.
Jason James Hallam (28) was caged at Lincoln Crown Court in September after he was convicted of sexual assault and admitted two affrays and possessing a weapon.
Almost identical to a life term, his imprisonment for public protection (IPP) sentence meant Hallam could only be freed when assessed as safe – and could be in prison for life.
But on Friday, three top judges at the Court of Appeal said the open-ended sentence was unnecessary and imposed a sentence which will ensure his release.
They imposed a sentence including five years’ custody, but with four years of extended licence conditions so that he can be monitored for longer after release.
Hallam, of Pinchbeck Road, attacked his victim after meeting her at a service station in Harlaxton Road, Grantham, in the early hours of February 14, 2011.
He followed her and, after catching up, grabbed the young woman. Urging her to have sex with him, he put his hand between her legs and touched her.
Fortunately, a pub landlord was passing and the woman broke free and ran for help.
Hallam was arrested the following day and bailed, but committed two similar offences just before Christmas 2011.
On December 13, he produced a knife and tried to get a woman to go into an alleyway with him, then committed a very similar offence without a knife four days later.
Prior to sentencing, Hallam was assessed by experts, who said that he wasn’t suffering from mental illness at the time.
On Friday his lawyers argued that the judge was wrong to find Hallam “dangerous”, a legal term meaning he is a significant risk to the public.
Rejecting the complaint, Lord Justice Treacy said: “The sexual assault was an unpleasant one. Fortunately, the chance appearance of the man brought the episode to an end, but the evidence shows it had a significant effect on the victim’s social confidence.
“Although there was no overt sexual threat in the later offences, they bore a remarkable similarity to the sexual assault.”
But the judge, sitting with Mr Justice Saunders and Sir David Clarke, said that, although the public needed protection, a sentence with guaranteed release and extended licence conditions would be sufficient.
“This case could and should be dealt with by way of an extended sentence and we substitute that for the sentence of IPP,” he concluded.
The effect of his new sentence is that Hallam will be freed halfway through his five-year custodial term, then be on licence for the rest of that and the four-year extension period.
During that time, he will be monitored and will be at threat of immediate prison recall if he puts a foot wrong.