Nottingham Trent student’s lawyer dream almost certainly over after he fails to overturn sexual assault conviction
Of the long list of ways that students have ruined their lawyer dreams — which range from drugs convictions to racist Facebook rants — slapping a sleeping woman with a flaccid penis is perhaps the weirdest that Legal Cheek has come across to date.
This week 21 year-old criminology undergraduate John Luke Dale — who was aiming to become a solicitor — failed to have the Court of Appeal overturn his sexual assault conviction for hitting a young woman across the face with his penis. In September Dale received a nine month jail sentence for the assault, which took place at a house party.
In the original trial, Dale, who was studying at Nottingham Trent University, admitted to stripping down to his boxers and slapping his penis in the cheek of the young woman — who cannot be named for legal reasons — while she slept. The sexual assault was filmed by Dale’s friend on his phone. It was only some time later after the friend showed work colleagues the video of the incident that the police were alerted.
On Tuesday lawyers for Dale argued that his sentence was too harsh and claimed that the he had received no sexual gratification from the bizarre act. According to the Nottingham Post, defence silk Trevor Burke QC told the court:
“What it was was a stupid drunken incident that lasted a very brief period of time, where he slaps his flaccid penis on the head of a sleeping woman.”
The QC further argued that the Nottingham Trent undergrad had done everything possible to make up for his crime — vowing to stay away from the university campus until the victim had graduated.
Furthermore, Burke told the court that he had been subject to a parental curfew and was working part-time for his father to pay victim compensation to the young woman.
An impact statement highlighted the victim’s continued distress regarding the incident and her deep concern that the video could still be in someone’s possession.
Judge Alistair McCreath, sitting with Lord Justice McCombe and Mr Justice Spencer, upheld Nottingham Crown Court’s previous finding, saying:
“One can see in stark form the distress caused to the victim of this offence and the continuing nature of it. The sentence which the judge imposed cannot possibly be wrong in principle.”
Although a criminal offence isn’t an automatic bar to becoming a lawyer — something as serious as sexual assault will no doubt be incredibly damaging to any future legal career. And with so many high calibre law students vying for so few jobs, the outlook for Dale is bleak.