August 2007

Sex offender wins prison sentence cut


A fish and chip shop owner who touched up teenagers in a back room of his premises has had his indefinite prison sentence quashed.

Judges were told his health was deteriorating and he had no intention of going back into business. George Sofroniou, a former brothel manager, was a “sexual predator” who exposed himself to a 16-year-old girl and put his hands down her trousers and top.

Sofroniou, 70, of St Benedict Close, West Bromwich, also pinched an 18-year-old on her bottom and told her she could be his mistress  in what must have been a “very frightening experience.”

The Court of Appeal heard he was convicted of two counts of sexual assault on a female at Nottingham Crown Court in April and sentenced in June to Indefinite Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP), with a minimum term of 18 months.

He was convicted of two counts of indecent assault on a 15-year-old girl in 1988, and was also convicted in 1983 of managing a brothel.

An IPP is similar to a life term as prisoners are not released until they persuade the Parole Board they no longer pose a danger to the public. Mr Justice Wilkie told how the assault on the 16-year-old, which occurred in Sofroniou’s fish and chip shop in Coalville, Leicestershire, in October 2005, was a “gross abuse of trust” and could have long-term effects on his victim.

However, Sofroniou appealed the indefinite imprisonment order and jail term on the grounds that the sentence was “manifestly excessive” given his age and poor health.

The judge, accompanied on the bench by Lord Justice Richards and Mr Justice Collins, also noted that Sofroniou no longer intended to run the fish and chip shop, which had given him the opportunity to prey on his victims.

The judge said it was unfair of the sentencing judge to conclude that Sofroniou posed a “significant risk” to the public. He quashed the IPP and replaced it with a two-year prison term.