March 2018

Convicted rapist who slept rough in Exmouth is spared jail now he lives at religious rehab

A homeless sex offender living rough in Exmouth who broke the terms of the register by not telling police where he was living has been spared a jail sentence.

A judge at Exeter Crown Court showed mercy on convicted rapist Joseph Norton after learning he is now living at a Christian community in Devon.

The court was told how Norton broke the order by failing to tell police of his location every seven days while he was living rough in Exmouth, Exeter and East Devon in July last year.

Norton, aged 34, now of the Eagle Community at Bratton Fleming, Barnstaple, admitted failing to comply with the sex offenders register and was jailed for a year, suspended for 18 months, by Judge David Evans.

The judge told him: “You had no fixed abode but were required to notify the police of your whereabouts every seven days. You knew perfectly well what your obligations were.

“You must seize the opportunity of having a residence at the Eagle Community. It gives you a realistic possibility of rehabilitation.”

The judge ordered Norton to stay at Eagle for a year and undertake 35 days of rehabilitation activities with the probation service.

Mr Gordon Richings, prosecuting, said Norton has 14 convictions for failing to comply with the register and had been jailed for 12 months on the last two occasions.

Mr Brian Fitzherbert, defending, said there was a positive report from Norton’s supervising officer which recommended he should remain at the community in North Devon.

Norton has been on the Sex Offenders Register since he was convicted of three rapes and detained for three years at Liverpool Crown Court in 2000 when he had just turned 17.

October 2015

Sex offender broke register rules for the 14th time when he fled Exeter homeless hostel

A sex offender has admitted failing to tell police of his new address after he moved out of a hostel in Exeter and went to live on the streets.

Joseph Norton was so distressed when a friend at the Gabriel House hostel died of a drugs overdose that he could not live there any longer and joined the city’s homeless, living around Cathedral Green.

Norton, aged 32, ought to have told police about his sudden change of address and broke the conditions of the sex offenders’ register by failing to do so within two days, Exeter Crown Court was told.

He has been warned he faces a jail sentence because it is the 14th time he has failed to comply with the register.

He was ordered to register for life after being convicted of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old boy 17 years ago but has failed to do so repeatedly adopting a traveller lifestyle.

A Judge adjourned his case for a risk assessment and to find out if he may be eligible to receive help from a rehabilitation project called the Langley House Trust.

They will only consider offering him a permanent home if the probation service decide he does not pose a risk to the public.

Norton, who is homeless, admitted breaching the terms of the Sex Offenders’ Register and was remanded in custody by Judge Erik Salomonsen to await sentence next month.

He told him he needs to change his attitude towards the probation service if he is to have any chance of being released.

The judge said the report prepared for this hearing made dismal reading with Norton telling the probation service he did not intend to comply with the register and saying the only help he wanted was to be given a council flat.

He told Norton:”I have seldom read a worse report and it has all come from your mouth. Time and again you are saying someone else has to do something for you. That is not what it is about.

“I am told you have changed your mind and your attitude to life. I shall ask the probation service for a full risk assessment.