Sept 2011

Paedophile’s park ban lifted by judge because of his human right to keep fit

  • Christopher Williams, 49, had been prevented from entering play areas and country parks

  • Says he needs to use the local park to lose weight – despite having the Lake District on his doorstep

  • Promises he would not to go near any children’s swings claiming: ‘It doesn’t interest me’

A paedophile banned from public parks to keep him away from children has had the court order relaxed because it was ‘a breach of his human rights’.

Christopher Williams, 49, was jailed for seven years for tying up and molesting a 12-year-old boy, and the ban on entering parks and play areas was imposed when he was released from prison.

But the paedophile claimed it prevented him from keeping fit – and now, after an appeal, a judge has relaxed the terms of the order.

Judge Andrew Woolman ruled that Williams, who has health problems, should be allowed  to exercise in his local park under certain  conditions. He will be able to do so for an hour at a time on weekdays when children are attending classes, but not during school holidays or weekends.

Judge Woolman, sitting with two magistrates at Burnley Crown Court, said: ‘If we did not allow him, it would be potentially damaging to his health and would probably be a breach of his human rights.’

Child-welfare campaigners condemned the decision yesterday and said the human rights of children should come first.

Rosie Carter, of the child-protection charity Safechild, said: ‘We despair of this decision.

‘When that individual was risk-assessed, they thought he would possibly molest children and that’s why he was banned from entering parks and play areas.

There must have been a serious risk identified, and parents and carers will be horrified that the Crown Court has overturned that decision. It’s truly appalling. They mention his human rights, but the welfare of children is paramount in English law, so we fail to understand how the court could overwrite the Children Act 1989. It’s frightening.’

Williams was jailed at Chester Crown Court in 1996 for indecent assault and gross indecency for his horrific attack on the boy.

On his release, he was given a Sexual Offences Prevention Order that banned him from public parks and play areas in an attempt to prevent him from coming into contact with children.

But last April a fresh warning was issued by the courts after he and another convicted paedophile, David Higgs, 28, set up home together in Rishton, Lancashire, and hosted visits by local children.

Police arrested both men for breaching Sexual Offences Prevention Orders and Higgs was jailed for 18 months. Williams escaped with a suspended prison term. After the latest conviction, Williams, who lives at a probation hostel in Carlisle, applied to Hyndburn Magistrates’ Court for his prevention order to be varied so he could go walking in his local park and play golf.

Magistrates refused the application after police objected, saying he could go walking in the nearby Lake District. But this week Williams appealed against their decision, claiming he had health problems and needed regular exercise. Relaxing the terms of the prevention order, Judge Woolman said: ‘We recognise that the possibilities for exercise under the existing regime, the existing orders of the court, are very restrictive.

‘It would be oppressive to leave the orders as they are and some limited alteration is appropriate.’

While Williams can now use his local park, he is still banned  from going anywhere near the children’s play area. He is also allowed to play golf.

Williams – who also has a 1980 conviction for indecent exposure and a lifetime ban on working with children – told the court: ‘I have no reason at all to go anywhere near the swings. It doesn’t interest me.

‘I admit I have done wrong and I know my risk level will never change, but from 1996 to 2010 I have not been in trouble.’ 

He said doctors had told him to lose weight as he suffered from a heart condition, asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.

The judge said no order of the court could prevent all contact between Williams and children –  he would, for example, come into contact with them when he was out shopping.

The court order allows Williams out of his probation hostel between 9am and 3.15pm, 4pm and 7.30pm, and 8pm and 11pm.


Williams had originally been imprisoned at Chester Crown Court in 1996 for indecent assault and gross indecency after molesting a 12 year old boy whose hands and feet were bound.

He also had a 1980 conviction for indecent exposure and was subject of a life time Sexual Offences Prevention Order banning him from working with children.

But last April a fresh warning was issued by the courts about his behaviour after he and another convicted paedophile David Higgs, 28, set up home together in Rishton, Lancs, and ‘entertained’ local children.

Despite being monitored by police, one youngster later spent the night at the home of the two perverts and another was told cigarettes and alcohol were available there.

Higgs would also go to another property where children aged between five and 16 congregated and would play hide and seek with them.

Police arrested both men after Williams himself contacted one of the children’s mothers, admitting they were not allowed to have children in the house and he wanted Higgs out. Higgs was found staying at the home of a young family.

Higgs was jailed for 18 months and ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register for 10 years for breaching the sexual prevention order but Williams escaped with a suspended prison term.

Despite not committing any offences against children for 15 years, he remains classed as a ‘high risk sex offender’ by police.