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Man has to give police 24 hours notice before he has sex with a new partner

John O'Neill
John O'Neill

A man who has to give police 24 hours notice before he has sex with a new partner, despite being cleared of rape, can be named as a 45-year-old former English literature student.

John O'Neill, who was made subject to an interim Sexual Risk Order (SRO) with a list of conditions, has said he had an interest in sado-masochism and used to visit a Fifty Shades of Grey-style fetish club.

The single father of two threatened to go on hunger strike in protest at the conditions he must live under, claiming they infringe his human rights. He has previously said he had no prospect of forming a relationship under the terms of the SRO.

Mr O'Neill appeared at York Magistrates' Court for a brief hearing where District Judge Adrian Lower lifted a reporting restriction which prevented the media from identifying him.

He was jostled by a member of the public as photographers took his picture when he entered court.

A judge will decide at a hearing next month whether to end the interim order or make it permanent, which Mr O'Neill strongly opposes.

Mr O'Neill, of Baker Street, York, was tried for rape; at a first trial the jury was unable to reach a verdict and he was cleared at a retrial at Teesside Crown Court in November.

North Yorkshire Police then applied for an SRO with a number of conditions, one of which was a requirement for him to inform police 24 hours before he has sex with a new partner.

The effect has been to devastate his personal life, he said.

Mr O'Neill chatted to reporters openly about how it affected him after a previous hearing.

He accused the police of "sour grapes" when he was acquitted.

His history of S and M sex was brought up at the rape trial, including evidence from a doctor with whom he had discussed his past.

He claimed the doctor misunderstood what he was discussing, saying she was confused about what he wanted to do and what was just fantasy.

Police thought what he told the doctor was confession, he claimed.

"Thank God Fifty Shades of Grey came out when it did, it helped my barrister normalise that," he said.

Mr O'Neill worked in IT but gave up his job to become a mature student at York St John University.

While there he attended a students' fetish society with a female friend - not his rape accuser.

The woman who accused him of rape said she was bitten and scratched, but Mr O'Neill denied the bite and said the scratch came during a massage after consensual sex.

He said he had no criminal record, "not even a parking ticket".

Other conditions include him having to hand over the PIN for his mobile phone to police, and not to use internet-connected devices which cannot be later checked by officers.

He decided, having taken legal advice, not to give them the PIN code as a point of principle, because he said the conditions of SROs were supposed to be prohibitive, not obligatory.

He was arrested for breaching his SRO and was held in police custody overnight.

Sexual risk orders can be applied to any individual who the police believe poses a risk of sexual harm, even if they have never been convicted of a crime.

They are civil orders imposed by magistrates at the request of police.

Outside court Mr O'Neill expressed mixed feelings about his name being reported.

"Obviously you don't want your face plastered across the press because people presume guilt, they are not interested in the details, an accusation is the same thing as a conviction for some people," he said.

"But on the other hand people need to know that this kind of thing happens.

"Without the 24 hours' notice before sex clause I don't think this case would have attracted much attention at all.

"From that perspective thank God they did put it in.

"People can now see the police do this."

Mr O'Neill, wearing a suit and with newly cropped hair after donating his long locks to a children's cancer charity, said the order was devastating.

"I don't have a life, I cannot work, I cannot have any form of relationship, it's absolutely ridiculous."