The cruel martyrdom of Steven Freeman

Remember David Blunkett? He was one in a succession of UK home secretaries hell-bent on being tougher on crime than their predecessor a couple of decades ago and more. Among his crowd-pleasing reforms was a “crackdown on paedophiles” in his Sexual Offences Act, 2003; but his most draconian measure was the sentence of “imprisonment for public protection” (IPP), introduced in the Criminal Justice Act of the same year.

The idea was to keep in prison any offender considered too dangerous to be released when their original sentence had expired – a bit like civil commitment in the US. Being kept behind bars would continue until the Parole Board judged they no longer posed a risk to the public. In theory, they would be able to show they were no longer dangerous by attending rehabilitation courses and convincing the people running them that they had seen the error of their ways.

But it didn’t work out like that. Judges went crazy, dishing out these endless (“indeterminate”) sentences like parking tickets for relatively minor offences. Just getting a place on the courses, including the SOTP (Sex offender treatment programme) in a timely fashion was all but impossible, and “passing” it harder still. In 2012, IPP was abolished after a damning European Court of Human Rights ruling. In any case, prison numbers had soared so rapidly as a result of these sentences that even hard-liners in government could see the situation was unsustainable: it was leading in effect to life imprisonment for offences that might otherwise have attracted a sentence of months rather than years.

The tragedy for Steven Freeman, who took over from me as chair of PIE in 1979, when I was facing an Old Bailey trial myself, is that he was sentenced just before this abolition, in 2011. Several co-defendants in the dock with him for child porn offences were each given a determinate sentence (all in the range 1-2 years) and served their time in the usual way. Steve, though, was singled out for the dreaded IPP. This came in his case with a minimum term, or “tariff”, of 30-months – exactly what had been handed down to me a few years earlier for similar offences, and not in itself an out-of-the-ordinary penalty.

As may be imagined, I had been terrified of getting an IPP. It was very much on the cards. While in jail as a remand prisoner awaiting sentence, I was solemnly served with official papers explaining the life-sentence they thought it was likely I would receive – yes, life sentence was the word they used to describe the IPP, and with good reason. Thousands of IPP prisoners have languished for years beyond the end of their tariff. The IPP law may have been dropped but not the sentences passed under it.

Steve was one of those caught in this nightmarish trap. Note the past tense. For Steve, this was truly a life sentence.  As I posted on BoyChat last month, after serving nearly 10 years behind bars (equivalent to a 20-year sentence taking ordinary 50% remission into account), Steve died in hospital of Covid-19; he had been taken there from HMP Bure, in Norfolk, after contracting the disease in December.

HMP Bure, a Category C prison, in Norfolk. Opened in 2009. The establishment, named after the nearby River Bure, is on the site of the former airforce base, RAF Coltishall  – JaysonCorkPhotography 2017

It must have been a bleak, lonely end to life, at a reported age of 66. That much he would have suffered in common with thousands in the pandemic, who have found themselves prevented by the isolation rules from seeing family and friends at a time of intense yearning for connection with loved ones, except, for some, when an “end of life” exception was clearly imminent.

For Steve, though, the separation was total, and far longer than just those final weeks. Once his co-defendant friends had been released he was left for years in total isolation from everyone he had known in the outside world. After leaving his native Stoke-on-Trent for London in 1976, his northern kin appear to have become increasingly remote from his life and estranged from his radicalism. They didn’t want to know him when he was in trouble; and the latest news, after Steve’s friend Leo Adamson contacted the funeral directors, is that the family do not wish to cooperate in any way with anyone outside the family.

Another close friend, “Barry”, has indicated that the prison authorities banned Steve from communicating with any of his friends, who were accordingly left with no idea of how he was coping or what his thoughts were during most of his time inside. My guess is that, even if Steve has been able to write to old friends, he would have had reason to believe that doing so would have compromised his chance of “passing” the SOPT: it would have seemed too much like failing to distance himself from his “criminal associates”.

In truth, Steve was always going to find it difficult to grovel hard enough in the face of the authorities’ demands for signs of abject penitence and contrition over his past. Whereas many offenders would have no difficulty in simply bull-shitting their way through, telling the SOTP people what they wanted to hear, Steve was always a proud, stubborn guy, hard-pressed to conceal his real feelings – which I feel sure would not have included contrition. This was confirmed not that long ago when another inmate at HMP Bure, who had known Steve inside, was released, and got word out that he had not changed: same old unyielding Steve, uncompromising, uncompromised, and mercifully not, it would appear, broken in spirit, despite all the agony of those long, slow, seemingly endless, wasted years.

That defiant stance probably had something to do with why Steve had been singled out for a harsher sentence than his co-defendants. Another, far more distinctive reason, made much of by the police, prosecutors, and media, arose from Steve’s considerable talent as an artist. As one newspaper put it, 3,000 “vile” drawings were found when police raided his home, including images this “monster” had drawn of “children being raped”.

Steve walking with co-defendants (cropped out) before fleeing ahead of the 1984 PIE trial to seek political asylum in the Netherlands.

What they might have meant, I suspect, is pictures of men and boys (Steve was a BL) making love. That would have been a more threatening breach of taboo: to depict children as active, willing participants in such acts was to challenge the dogma that such a thing is impossible.

Either way, rape or not, Steve made legal history as the first person to be convicted for making obscene drawings of children under the recently enacted Coroners and Justice Act, 2009, in what Scotland Yard described as a “landmark case”.

My guess is that they had more to feel pleased with themselves about than meets the eye. It looks likely the Met Police engineered the passing of a new law with Steve as its intended first target. As the Internet Watch Foundation noted on their website (open Case laws: R v Freeman):

Police had originally raided Freeman’s house on a previous occasion in 2008 and Freeman was charged with the possession of Indecent Photographic Images, however as the 2009 Act had not come into force no specific action was able to be taken on the drawings. Once the Act came into force Police returned to Freeman’s house and secured the case against him.

Do we think the police just twiddled their thumbs after initially finding they could take no action on the drawings? Unlikely. It seems probable the Met took this up at the highest level, lobbying successfully for an urgent change in the law in the full knowledge they could clobber Steve with it in a sensational case. The necessary provisions were simply shoehorned into a much bigger law reform that happened to be going through parliament at the time, so the opportunity was available. The applicable section, s.62 of the Act, came into force on 6 April 2010. Hardly more than a week after this, Steve had another knock on the door, leading to his conviction the following year over the photographic offences and the drawings.

Ironically, at the same time as this oppressive and philistine law was being applied in Steve’s case, in another part of the same city at the same time, artistic images of sexual intercourse between man and boy were being positively celebrated by the media and cultural establishment, lauded as a great treasure by the BBC and the British Museum!

Remember the Warren Cup? It is named after Edward Perry Warren, a wealthy BL and art collector, who acquired it over a century ago, thrilled by the intergenerational sex scenes it depicted. On one side, a bearded man is shown anally penetrating a youth; on the other side, a youth is seen doing the same to a prepubescent boy. Well, not quite the same. The bearded bloke is positioned to go in with his penis from behind, whereas the boy is entered sideways.

This magnificent silver vessel, discovered near Jerusalem and dating back to the Roman occupation there, was purchased by the British Museum for £1.8 million in 1999. Yes, there was huffing and puffing in the media over both the subject matter and the price, but I do not remember anyone calling for the imprisonment of the “monsters” who had secured the “vile” object.

Admittedly, the Coroners and Justice Act had not been passed at that point. But its arrival did not prevent the Warren Cup’s celebration in a prestigious BBC radio series called A History of the World in 100 Objects in 2010, by art historian Neil MacGregor, director of the museum from 2002 to 2015. A Guardian story about a recent exhibition featuring the cup dodged any potential embarrassment when arts correspondent Mark Brown resorted to a flat-out lie. He wrote, “The Warren Cup shows two scenes of men making love.” Men? Including a prepubescent “man”? Either that was a deliberate porky or his eyesight is not up to being an arts writer.

There is even a detailed book about the cup by the museum’s Keeper of Greek and Roman Antiquities, Dyfri Williams, who bravely resisted describing the most controversial scene on the cup as a description of child rape. Williams faced up squarely to the fact that the depiction was of a youth of around 16 penetrating a prepubescent boy of about 12 or 13. He described the scene as one of “tender calm and concentration” in which the boy is “almost cradled” by the youth in a “supportive and intimate gesture”. Williams’ scholarly interpretation is that this was an attempt by Romans of the time to imagine what idealized Athenian pederasty had been like in an earlier era, one that “allowed for fully physical relationships from even before puberty (as in Sparta and Crete)”.

Now that’s more like it! This is art appreciation of which Steve himself might have approved! As we have seen all too clearly, there was no such generosity towards his own art, or to him personally. A final twist of the knife from the media reporting his death was to quote an unnamed “insider” as saying “He won’t be missed.” The rest of my piece will be largely a demonstration that this contemptuous dismissal is itself empty, malicious, contemptible, and palpably false.



Edmund Marlowe, author of the acclaimed BL novel Alexander’s Choice, and host of the scholarly website Greek Love Through the Ages, launched a spirited fightback against this calumny in a post on BoyChat. For Marlowe, Steve’s posts on the forum years ago “stood head and shoulders above all the others for wit, originality and erudition”. After making contact with Steve on a one-to-one basis, including hours of Skype conversation, he discovered these qualities made Steve’s online company “boundlessly fascinating and fun”. Steve’s integrity, Marlowe felt, was the key to his downfall:

Others got away very lightly compared to him by making the necessary compromises with the omnipotent state, but though fully aware of the dire consequences, Steve was one of those characters who found it well-nigh impossible to acknowledge as shameful, dirty and wrong what he believed to the core of his being to be beautiful, good and true.

The cover of the published version of Steve’s award-winning story.

Also on BoyChat, I noted that in 2014 Steve had come first among 400 entries to win English PEN’s Prison Writing competition with a story that became the title piece of The Gates of Ytan and other stories, downloadable here as a PDF. The event was judged by Mark Haddon, best-selling, multi-prize winning, author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time.

Haddon is plainly a man we would expect to know literary talent when he sees it. So is Geoff Hardy, well known Gay Liberation Front pioneer of the 1970s in London, whose career as an “out” gay teacher (which took real courage in those days) included helping develop the literary talent of the British-Guyanese poet, novelist, playwright, and professor Fred D’Aguiar. Just a few days ago, Hardy wrote to a friend of mine saying:

It’s obvious why [Steve’s entry] won first prize… it’s beautifully written… What a crime it is to think of his never being able to taste freedom again – yet his mind managed to free itself through writing… So much pain, perception and creativity exists behind bars. Thankfully, there are people who ensure that they have a route of expression and see them as fully human and with all the potential humans have…

Steve’s name had not always been Freeman. As a child and young adult, he was Steven Smith, later preferring to be known as Steven Adrian before formally adopting the name Freeman. Leo, a fellow activist who knew Steve for many years, refers to this dance with identity in some wide-ranging reflections on a distinctive life:

A talented writer and artist with strains of stubbornness and fatalism that led more than once to disaster and tragedy, it is particularly sad that all of Steve’s cartoons are almost certainly lost. Definitely obscene, with their fantastic storylines, the later ones bore comparison with Beardsley at his most extravagantly lewd.

He was determined to live as a paedophile, although his only known intimate relationships were with admired older men, one of whose names he chose as his post-PIE identity – although the delicious, multi-layered irony of “Freeman” may have helped with the choice.

He was an energetic chair of PIE, and the last two or three issues of Magpie, as well as all seven of Contact!, PIE’s last newsletter, are mostly his creative editorial work. Most lasting, though, is the 1983 interview he gave to Newsnight, alongside Peter Bremner, which can still be found on YouTube.

It was a bold move to flee before the 1984 PIE trial and seek political asylum in the Netherlands. After six years, the claim was turned down, as the political atmosphere chilled there as well. But the British extradition case against him also failed, since the Netherlands had no equivalent to any of the offences he was charged with. In the end he was not extradited but deported, based on false assurances by the UK authorities that there were no charges outstanding against him. When he was arrested immediately on arrival, questions were asked in the Dutch Parliament. The UK authorities just shrugged and prosecuted him anyway. But, looking back, these events are enough to demonstrate the purely political nature of the charges against him, and PIE in general.

That exile is probably the time when his life was happiest and fullest, living for some years in a commune in a fine old, converted barn, and then in a spacious municipal flat, on excellent terms with the local youth, who appreciated his quick wit and salty humour. Plenty of room also for the cats that were another of his passions.

Back in the UK, after his first jail sentence, he lived quietly, with little involvement in the vestigial, dying paedophile politics of the day. Rather than the hopeless task of trying to overcome or convince a vastly more powerful adversary, after PIE he chose to live in the meagre margin left by state surveillance and micro-management. He became a bit of an angry old man, with biting observations of the ever-shrinking room for dissent by those with “one penis too many”. Bure, the sex-offender re-education camp where he was caged for his last nine years, run almost entirely by women, with a few men in junior roles, will certainly have confirmed his anti-feminism.

He continued writing and drawing, partly for his own amusement, but some of it was more serious, and publishable. I hope more will be published and become a voice from a margin our cultural overseers would prefer silenced.

Barry, mentioned earlier, met Steve in 1978 after joining PIE and going to a local support group in South London. At that time, Steve had moved into the home of an older gay man – apparently one with BL sympathies and perhaps inclinations. This was “David”, who until his retirement had been a master at Dulwich College. Barry wrote:

Personally, I felt very sad at hearing of his death. He had been a good friend and very understanding. He made himself available to help people out and was welcoming in inviting people to his home on a regular basis. It is distressing to think how badly treated he was in being denied his freedom for 10 years when he should have been released after his minimum sentence had been served.

For my part, I was never a close friend of Steve’s, unlike Leo or Barry, nor quite as in thrall to his charms as Edmund. As I noted on BoyChat, we had our differences. However, I whole-heartedly approve the warm personal reminiscences recorded above. My intention here, at the personal level, is simply, as I said earlier, to contest the bogus claim that “He won’t be missed.” On that score, I will just add, finally, I am quite sure he would have been a valued and sorely missed conversationalist on the exercise yard at HMP Bure. Also, I know that an Italian literary scholar named Elisa, an intellectual admirer from afar who wrote a succession of supportive letters to Steve in prison, was greatly shocked and upset to see him go, even though she never had the reward of hearing back from him. Quite remarkable. And very touching.

As for a wider view of Steve’s record, especially as regards his chairmanship of PIE and his circumstances in the Netherlands, it is a long story that will have to wait for another occasion.

R.I.P. Steve.



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Warbling J Turpitude

I for one am muchly curious about use of the term “stubborn”, that TO’C has now resorted to not once but twice in this, his ‘overview’ of a fallen comrade. I would like to know what it was about this man, or rather your exchanges with this man, that so left ‘the taste of stubborn’ in your mouth. For no matter how we use it, once used the term ends up being a derogatory one – from which, i might say, there is then little escape.

I suppose that, as one not unaquainted with the potted character designation “headstrong, obstinate and perverse” i’m more ‘sensitized’ (gasp) to stubborn than many. But truly i would like TO’C to reveal, if he can, just what it was in his exchanges with M’sieur Freeman that left him so badly wanting only concession, if not wholesale capitulation, to the truth he had coming out his ears.



Should have done a bardo practice with a tibetan monk. You could have knocked up a girl tom, and gotten him reborn as your son. Then the legacy would have continued 😉

Zen Thinker

A powerful post highlighting man’s inhumanity to man.

It’s all very well saying ‘don’t get into trouble’ but when you have experience of the grim and implacable ‘carceral State’ you are left feeling that there should be radical justice reform. As Thoreau says, there is no moral superiority in government, only greater physical strength, with which (I might add) they can bully and terrorise people with impunity.

Zen Thinker

I was just reading a news article and something occurred to me. It said an estimated 300,000 people in Britain have a ‘sexual interest in children’ (which I assume is equivalent to ‘minor attraction’, although the former is an ambiguous wording suggesting threat). There are 850 arrests made per quarter for ‘child sexual offences’, both contact and non-contact, which amounts to 1.1% of the total population of minor attracted people per year.

But my broader point is that 300,000 is quite a large constituency, enough perhaps for political change or at least recognised minority status, but that an oppressive tyranny in the public mood is keeping people silent. Out of fear and social stigma almost all minor attracted people keep their sexual identity secret, meaning that there is no political protection granted them. For politicians tend to follow the public mood, rather slavishly in fact (although there is also an unhappy symbiosis with top-down influences from elites) and the public will is for minor attracted people to be suppressed, persecuted and psychologically tortured by media, popular culture and State.

In fact the media, the government and a hateful public majority conspire together to create an incredibly hostile environment, such that very few people feel able to raise their head above the parapet, unless they are ‘outed’ in the most lurid terms by the local media (e.g. if X was guilty of image offences). So that 300,000 are fragmented, suppressed, fearfully private, and prevented from obtaining a political voice. It is all very sad, but one can’t help thinking there is a vicious, constantly renewed and deliberative effort in government and media to keep the boot pressed down on the neck of the minor attracted population, and furthermore to stir up the people even more than their natural inclination (and they are perhaps quite suggestible) to thoughts and acts of intense hatred. It is a sad state of affairs.

A solution could be to rescue the voice of the minor attracted from the absolute margins and give it a more central societal role, but it is so difficult. I was just struck by the number of 300,000 though, which is immense, but broken and divided by a concerted campaign of hate. There is at least hope that the hostility won’t be perpetual, and that minor attraction will have its Civil Rights moment.


300 000 in the UK, that makes less than one half of a percent of the total population, or slightly above one half of a percent of the adult population. Maybe one percent of adult males, if they close their eyes on paedophile women. That corresponds roughly to estimates of the number of exclusive paedophiles. On the other hand, ‘having a sexual interest in children’ has been measured to be about 20% of the adult population, in other words, one man in five is a non-exclusive paedophile or hebephile.

Fata Morgana

Estimates for exclusive paedophilia converge around the 1% mark. Self-report studies consistently offer figures in the range of 20-25% for significant attraction to prepubescent children, though one has to wonder whether the level of stigma attached to paedophilia might dissuade adults from admitting to such attraction even within the context of an anonymised study. It’s also possible that some wouldn’t even admit it to themselves.

The Hall study (1995) is interesting in that it encompassed a self-report element and a penile plethysmography element. Now, we should be careful to make a distinction between attraction and arousal. However, it’s interesting that around 25% of the subjects in this study admitted significant attraction to prepubescent girls, yet 89% of them exhibited significant arousal to images of prepubescent girls, with 32.5% of them exhibiting a degree of arousal that equalled or exceeded their arousal to fully adult women. Could taboo have played a role in the arousal? Sure, but the takeaway from Hall and other studies is that non-exclusive, significant paedophilic arousal and/or attraction seem to be extremely common and are likely to be found in one in five men as an absolute minimum. On ‘significant attraction’, Dr Sarah Goode suggests that 20% would be a conservative estimate and believes the figure may be closer to 50%. There’s plenty of scope to hone these figures through more studies.

One thing that interests me is the dearth of studies on attraction to children in early to mid puberty. If 20-50% of men have a significant level of attraction to prepubescent children, what percentage of them will have significant attraction to pubescent children? I recall a study on men’s level of attraction to female faces, which found that men are optimally attracted to 17-year-old females’ faces. Unfortunately, the lowest age of female face featured in the study was 17, so the study raises an obvious question.

Perhaps we should look to the world’s largest self-report study in the world, which has the benefit of perhaps being more anonymised than the anonymised self-report studies: porn. The search term ‘teen’ often tops Pornhub’s search term rankings, which it releases each year. So popular is this term that porn stars in their mid 20s are habitually passed off as teens and the ‘milf’ category seems to start in the late 20s. This produces an odd phenomenon, and if you enter ‘milf and teen’ into the search bar of such a site you’ll see exactly what I mean. The ‘milf’ will usually be at most early 30s, while the teen will often be only a few years younger, such that scrolling down through the search results it’s hard (in a clear majority of the videos) to figure out from the thumbnail which woman is meant to be the milf and which is meant to be the teen. Sometimes they’ll distinguish the two by getting one of the women to wear more mature clothing, have a more mature hairstyle, or sport secretary-style glasses. Or the ‘milf’ will simply be the one with bigger breasts. Certainly, if women in their 40s is your cup of tea then using search times like ‘milf’ isn’t a reliable way to find the kind of material you prefer.

If the age of consent and the age for appearing in pornography were lowered to 15, how many men would be watching videos featuring girls that young? And would the milf category then start in the early 20s?


A 2010 paper by Karen Franklin, <i>Hebephilia: Quintessence of Diagnostic Pretextuality</i>, quotes the results of a study from 1970:
<i>In a subsequent study, Freund confirmed the normalcy of sexual arousal to adolescents. His subjects were 48 young Czech soldiers, all presumed to be ‘‘normal’’ and heterosexual in orientation. He showed the men pictures of children (ages 4–10 years old), adolescents (ages 12–16), and adults (ages 17–36). As expected, most of the heterosexual men were sexually aroused by photos of both adult and adolescent females. They were not aroused by pictures of males of any age, and were aroused at an intermediate level by pictures of children (Freund & Costell, 1970)</i>.


IPP was abolished after a damning European Court of Human Rights ruling.

Will Brexit bring back the possibility to restore IPP?

And anyways, you guys in the Kingdom don’t have anything like lex mitior, that civilised countries should have? (WikiPedia: “If the law has changed after an offense was committed, the version of the law that applies is the one that is more advantageous for the accused”)

Of course law makers can and will bend rules however they please…


The European Court of Human Rights has nothing to do with EU. Moreover, a country like Norway is subject to EU’s Directives and Regulations even though it is not a member of EU, so the same might apply to the UK.

Fata Morgana

The European Convention on Human Rights was incorporated into UK law by the Human Rights Act 1998. A commitment on the part of the UK to continue to adhere to the terms of the European Convention on Human Rights is also enshrined in the EU-UK trade agreement (Article LAW.GEN.3).

The following Supreme Court ruling might be of interest to some. It pertains to a case in which an IPP had been imposed by the Crown Court whilst IPPs were in the process of being abolished. On appeal, the limits of the applicability of lex mitior were tested (albeit on sentencing) in the Supreme Court.

It would be interesting to know why you raise the matter, though, Melorder. In what way do you think the principle of lex mitior is applicable to Steve’s case?


Marthijn Uittenbogaard’s take on the matters discussed in this blogpost (with it being directly quoted):


The important thing to remember is this: Even though the privately owned media is not subsidized by the state, it’s still subordinate to the numerous corporations that advertise on it. In at least some countries, such as the USA (I’m not certain if this is true in the UK) branches of the military, such as the U.S. Army, actually advertise in the media themselves. And numerous big companies that sponsor the privately owned media, such as General Electric, have huge contracts with the government, particularly in the “defense” (read: war) industry. In the U.S. we also have the situation where the richest man in the world, Jeff Bezos (owner of Amazon), actually owns the Washington Post, one of the biggest mainstream news outlets, and a few years ago he signed an extremely lucrative contract with the CIA.


You really are an unusual person for the fringe circles, Tom: you consistently reject the populism and conspiracism that forms the basis of the most fringe worldviews. This means the view based on a decisive confrontation between the supposedly benevolent, oppressed populace and supposedly malevolent, oppressive elite, with all society’s ills being attributed to the latter’s malicious acts intentionally directed against the population, for the sake of its further subjugation. Yet you, to the contrary, apparently maintains that the populace largely has itself to blame for its problems, and defend the governmental, corporate and academic leadership against accusations of maliciousness, as well as seemingly do no share the radical contempt for the authority and expertise that is fundamental for the populist worldview.

Being myself a *moderate* conspiracist and a *critical* populist, I generally tend to support populace against elite; have no faith in the elites’ benevolence, and have nothing against the idea of some of the elite’s members covertly scheming to fulfill their power-obtainment plans at the populace’s expense; and prefer personal exploration and analysis to the unquestioning trust in the “expert consensus” (the notion of “consensus” in the matters of science and knowledge is the one that I reject in the most uncompromising way). Yet I also have no great love for the populace and for the masses, who are usually no less ugly than the elites ruling over them; I understand that, were they to take power away from the elites, the society they would build would clearly be no better than the one they have defeated. Very likely, it would be much worse.

So, the only people who are sympathetic to me are the ones who want neither form of oppression, who reject dictatorship of elite as well as the tyranny of the mass; ones who are able to make their own mind, rather than follow the set of either elitist or populist dogmas. Such people can and will have differing views on many matters, and thus will disagree with my own positions on many points; it is fully acceptable to me. That’s why I respect you so much, Tom – you are one of such rare people.

P.S. It is only such people, as I noticed, who are able to become child liberationists and MAP allies, since the hatred to the “paedos” and oppressive, paternalistic “child protection” are the only position that elitists and populists fully share.


I call such aproach irenics (from Ancient Greek “irene”, peace) – a dialogue aimed at finding a common ground with an opponent. It is opposed to the polemics (from Ancient Greek “polemos”, war), a dialogue aimed at defeating the opponent’s point to empower your own one.

Fata Morgana

IPPs were intended to be imposed on individuals who had committed serious violent or sexual offences and who could be deemed to pose a significant risk of harm in the future. Do you have any details on how the judge reached the conclusion that Steve posed a significant risk of harm?

Stephen James

Tom, your link doesn’t seem to work for me. It asks me to log on to Dropbox. Then when I have done that, it takes me to my own Dropbox area and tells me the ‘public’ folder doesn’t exist. Could you check the link you used?

Fata Morgana

It says that the IPP was given for the distribution of indecent images, which is a more serious offence than possession of prohibited images.

Nonetheless, the pre-sentence report writer has taken a ‘rigid and dogmatic approach’ to paedophilia (if I may borrow a turn of phrase from the transcript), assuming that Steve was a ticking time bomb despite him not having been convicted of a contact offence, which should have counted for something when assessing the risk he posed, and despite most of the links made between CP offences and contact offences being reliant on the fallacy known as ‘affirming the consequent’ (contact offenders are often found to have CP; this individual has CP; therefore this individual is or will become a contact offender). There was scope for the judge to think critically about the risk assessment, but he does not appear to have done so.

As for taking Steve’s lack of repentance and his militant stance as aggravating factors, that goes against Sentencing Council guidelines. Genuine contrition is a mitigating factor; lack of contrition is not an aggravating factor. One aggravating factor that is relevant is that Steve had a previous conviction for a (vaguely) related offence. The judged could have used that to dole out a harsher sentence. Without knowing the category of material distributed (rather than merely possessed), it’s impossible based on the transcript alone to draw a conclusion about the fairness of the 30-month tariff. Nonetheless, a determinate sentence of 30 months doesn’t seem inappropriate and there might even have been scope to extend to a determinate sentence of 36 months or more. The IPP was manifestly excessive. Too much weight was given to the folk knowledge relied on by the pre-sentence report writer.

In the case of Steve and many others given IPPs for offences that (relative to other offences for which an indeterminate sentence might be meted out) could be considered minor, their punishments were surely tantamount to the ‘inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment’ proscribed by Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Fata Morgana

At least your pie in the sky wasn’t half-baked.

Yes, I’m a mirage with nothing to hide. 🙂

Have you seen ‘The indeterminate sentence for public protection: A thematic review’? It makes for interesting but unsettling reading.

Stephen James

That’s it!

This link is a ‘public’ one taking the user to the required area of the Internet. The one you gave before, as you suspected, is just taking you to your own hard drive.


Protip for dropbox links: change the ?dl=0 at the end of the link to
?dl=1 to immediately start downloading it, or
?raw=1 to make dropbox serve the original document without any clutter.


Sorry, for some reason I thought that it was a pdf document (which could be directly displayed by the browser), not a Word doc (which couldn’t, so downloading is the only option).


It seems that being insulted by the British media is a badge of honour. In the Murdoch press, Tom is systematically called “vile.” And remember that in the 1920’s, the magazine John Bull proclaimed Aleister Crowley “the wickedest man in the world” and “a man we’d like to hang.”


Thanks for this obituary.

The German activist website krumme13 reported about this and pointed to your blog article. This prompted me to also write an article about Steven Freeman on my own (German language) blog. The blog features a “google translate” applet (located on the right hand side) that delivers an acceptable translation.


According to reports, because of IPP, England and Wales have now more people on indeterminate sentences than Germany, Russia, Poland, Italy, and the Netherlands combined. On top of this, all rehabilitation support had stopped during the pandemic, that is for over a year now, which caused a backlog of parole hearings. Prisoners have basically been trapped like rats with COVID running rampant. How this was allowed in the UK in the first place, and most importantly how it wasn’t abolished retrospectively, is truly beyond my comprehension!

Stephen James

Desperately tragic. I didn’t know Steven well, but I did correspond with him briefly in the 1980s and he came across as insightful and supportive. His treatment has been shockingly unjust.
I look forward to hearing more from you about his life.


I have checked the folder of my letters to Steve and see that the very first letter l wrote to him while in prison dated back to December 5, 2014. I knew he enjoyed drawing and had therefore decided to include an illustration drawn by me in every letter. It started as a simple red fox gazing at the moon above – a homage to his The Gates of Ytan book – and continued as a series of monthly drawings that would sometimes take days to complete. They could be Alice falling down the rabbit hole, or the Snark to be fought in a dreamy delirious fight, or James Joyce lost in the blues and greens of Dublin, or Pinocchio’s diabolical duo, Cat and Fox, and many, many others. It became a monthly ritual that l followed religiously and it had a double purpose: on one hand, it was a way to hopefully establish contact with him and help him towards release with the help of solicitors I had contacted. On the other, it was intended to just delight him.
I thought a monthly “surprise” and the anticipation preceding it, could have helped putting some colour into the otherwise grey experience of prison and could have provided with a little distraction while he was awaiting release. Then birthday cards followed, then Christmas cards, and finally, once books had been allowed, l started sending him a book every month. Every time l visited a place, either in the UK or abroad, l would send him a postcard. Being a hound for hidden gems and best-of the-best-everything, whenever l saw a place in London that caught my eye, l wrote him a detailed description of my escapades and added “Look, this is where I’ll take you once you’re back home!”. I had prepared for him a list of phantasmagorical places and venues that no dreamer could have matched, not even the Great Jay Gatsby. I felt that because Steve had been treated so extraordinarily bad by the system, what he deserved for the rest of his days had to be extraordinarily fulfilling. The past, l told him, will cease to exist. Now life will begin.

Sadly, l never received any reply from him and, to this day, l do not know the reason. I cannot see how l in particular could pose any risk to his position, and so his family, who were similarly not hearing back from him. Tom now writes that he had been banned from writing to friends and yet just today l was informed by his family that, among his few belongings, was a letter he was writing to me. So at one point he had decided to write me, then for some reason he did not finish it or send it. I always did my best to keep the tone of my letters light, engaging and entertaining. Incidentally, the letter he had begun replying to was one of a not so happy tone: l had recently lost my home and had to go back to my parents’ home, which was distant from the city l had to travel to every day, and a daily commute of four hours on a bus was killing me, both physically and psychologically. This is the letter Steve was replying to.
My biggest regret remains that l am sure, l am absolutely positive in my heart, that if Steve had contacted the solicitors l was begging him to write to, they would have granted him release. I have personally witnessed what difference having the right solicitor can make: filling papers right, replacing that lazy offender manager, and a word from your MP, can truly and quickly send you home.

People have been telling me l did all that l could do, but that’s not true. I know in my heart how l failed Steve. I made so many promises to him that l broke, that are now broken, and can’t be mended because he’s gone. Many times l asked him to stay strong, not to give in to despair. Please come home, l would tell him, just come home, Steve, all will be well, all will be fixed, trust me, you won’t have to worry about a thing. A thousand times l pictured in my mind the exact moment he would be walking past the prison gate, that IPP abomination finally behind him. I knew, despite his silence, that he was the one man in the whole world with the strength of character to endure injustice and be victorious in the end.

I had a dream of him the other night. He had sent someone for me to inform me that he was not dead, he had just faked his death and he was now waiting for me in a room across the corridor. I was mad with joy, l just couldn’t contain myself. I kept texting all my friends “Steve is not dead!!!”. It is true, l kept telling myself, this is not a dream, it’s all true! In my mind l could see him, standing behind the closed door in the long narrow corridor. He was tall, and slender, with his hands in his pockets, and smiling: he was amused that he had managed to fool everyone. All l had to do was running across that corridor and open that door. I was telling myself, l will embrace him, and kiss him, and congratulate him! I felt like the news that he was alive had suddenly dissolved not only the grief l had experienced over his death, but the sorrows of a lifetime as well. It was a feeling like l had never experienced before. l think of it now, how elated l was for the briefest of moments, and l just want to cry.

Following Steve’s death, l read again Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Adonais”, a poem written by Shelley in April 1821, following the death of John Keats seven weeks earlier. Accidentally we remember John Keats this very year, 2021, this very month of February, as Keats died, as they say, “in Rome at 11PM”, on February 23, 1821. I would strongly urge anyone who has lost a loved one, and especially in these times of pandemic, to read this poem and especially ponder on the lyrically powerful words of Shelley:

He is made one with Nature: there is heard / His voice in all her music, from the moan / Of thunder, to the song of night’s sweet bird / 
He is a presence to be felt and known/ In darkness and in light, from herb and stone,/ Spreading itself where’er that Power may move / Which has withdrawn his being to its own; / Which wields the world with never-wearied love, /Sustains it from beneath, and kindles it above. 

In conclusion, I would like to publicly thank two people. 

One is EDMUND: thank you for your kind help with Steve’s case in the last few years, and your unfailing support. Progress couldn’t have been made without your contribution. I am now glad that l managed to inform Steve in time how you had come forward to help.

And, TOM O’CARROLL: Tom, you have helped me with Steve, and continuously assisted me well beyond the call of duty, at any moment, any time of day, out of pure generosity and nobility of soul. I shall not forget this. I could have told you privately, but l wish everybody here reads what kind of man you are.

I have now just opened a birthday card l sent Steve in November 2017 and it reads: “You, Steve, are the only one in the world l send a birthday card to. I love the beautiful month of November, and l will remember that November 2 is your birthday even when you’re gone”. Wow, it breaks my heart to read it now… Little did l know l would live to see that day. But l have to keep that promise, l will continue remembering his birthday every coming November, just like l did when l teased him, OK Steve, l know you don’t want to hear about your birthday but know what? I celebrated on your behalf and for that reason l went out for a piece of truly luscious cake! It brings a smile on my face to think how l would actually do so, and sometimes have even sent him a photo of the cake. Ha!

Contrarily to what some disgusting individuals may say, Steve will indeed be missed. He duly deserved being remembered in this blog. My rational mind, my studies, my perception of various phenomena, and my observation of nature, all tell me that the energy that animates matter does not perish. This is the reason why l believe Steve is still here in some form, like others who have passed. 

Dear Steve, when the day comes, we shall meet again.


Rest in peace, Steven, and take it easy: a hundred years from now, the crown will grant you a full pardon – before redirecting their hatred towards other population groups and minorities. For what is most admirable: to whine while laying a wreath for the victims of the Holocaust 100 years later, or to fight holocausts while they are taking place?

Marco Antonio

Thanks for sharing this interesting story. I’ve never met Steven, so I can’t talk about his particular case. But I do know that in the name of The Sexual Abuse, the system is putting people behind bars, when they shouldn’t be. A fair system exercises the same effort to convict people who inflict real damage, than to ensure the sexual freedom of those who want to enjoy it.

There is no justice without freedom.

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