Although it’s possible that Kieran’s autism may have contributed to his inappropriate behaviour in public, he has never used it to excuse what he did. Unfortunately, 2 years on Kieran is still having to live with the consequences of his actions and is finding it difficult to see any future for himself.
It’s probably important for me to say at the start that I have a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder and so writing articles like this is difficult for me. However I’m going to give it a shot.
At the age of 17 I was arrested for the offence of outraging public decency and in February 2019 received a 12 month youth referral order. Between my arrest and going to court I was given a conditional caution for a similar incident which happened when I was travelling on a train on my way to college. I deeply regret both of these incidents.
I was in my second year at college studying for a Diploma in Travel and Tourism when I was arrested for the incident on the train. As a result of this I was suspended from college pending the result of the police investigation. The investigation seemed to go on forever and eventually I dropped out of college and never got my qualification.
Word quickly got around my local neighbourhood about my conviction. It seemed as though my neighbours thought I’d got off lightly with a referral order and kept reporting me for things I hadn’t done. I was regularly being arrested but none of these incidents were taken any further by the police as I was able to prove that they were nothing to do with me.
Following my conviction I worked with the Youth Offending Team who were absolutely brilliant. I managed to gain employment as a customer advisor for a large organisation, working nights. I was still being arrested regularly (nothing ever came of these) but luckily my employer never became aware of these.
I quickly got promoted to a trainee pharmacy advisor and transferred to another store. The arrests continued and on one occasion, I was arrested at work. Of course my manager started asking me a lot of questions when I returned for my next shift but when I explained about the false allegations he was happy for me to continue working.
Understandably however, after so many allegations the local police started to get really suspicious and began to believe that there might be some truth to the allegations that were being made against me and decided to apply for a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO). Within 3 months of the application being submitted to the court, an indefinite SHPO was issued and from that day forward, my life fell apart.
I lost my job, my income and ended up in £5,000 of debt. I’ve now moved away from the area that I’d previously lived in and I’m pleased to say that the allegations have completely stopped. I’m now looking for a new job which is proving to be extremely difficult as I have to disclose the SHPO every time I am asked about convictions. Knowing that the SHPO will be in place forever means that I don’t even have an end date to look forward to.
I recently attempted to end my life and was found on a bridge by the police. I was sectioned and sent to a psychiatric hospital for approximately 4 weeks. I am on medication for anxiety and since being sectioned I have attempted to end my life several times. I am not in a good place at all.
I had always had two main goals:
- To travel the world or work within the travel industry, and
- To begin socialising (due to my autism I find this hard) and start a relationship.
Unfortunately I can no longer travel the world as the majority of places I want to visit will need a visa which I won’t get as I have a criminal record and I’m on the sex offenders register. It’s also going to affect my chances of finding somebody to start a relationship with – I don’t want to put anybody else through this and I wouldn’t want a relationship where I couldn’t be open and truthful.
I now find that I don’t want to get up in the mornings. I have a lot of suicidal thoughts, I just don’t want to exist. I have a lot of debt that I can’t repay and nothing to live for.
I have only recently come to terms with the fact that one mistake has caused all this to happen. It’s put a terrible strain on my family. My mum doesn’t want anything more to do with me and as my sister is only 16 I’m only occasionally allowed to see her when my father is present.
I’m not posting this because I want sympathy – I understand that what I did was wrong. I am posting this as I’d like to raise awareness of what it’s like to be convicted of a sexual offence and the consequences afterwards.
By Kieran (name changed to protect identity)
A comment from Unlock
In September 2020 Unlock, together with the Prison Reform Trust published a joint report, ‘Thinking Differently’ exploring employers attitudes towards the recruitment of people convicted of sexual offences. Research showed that employers discriminate generally against people with convictions but those convicted of sexual offences are the most stigmatised. The report sets out a number of recommendations to address the barriers faced by those convicted of a sexual offence who are looking to get back into employment.