Bristol church youth leader Philip Barlow wins first stage of appeal against sex offences jailing
A church youth leader who is serving a prison sentence for a string of child sex offences today won the first stage of a Court of Appeal battle to clear his name.
Philip Stephen Barlow, 30, was a youth leader in the Grace Bible Church, in Saltford, near Bath, Somerset, when he is alleged to have committed the offences.
In December 2011, Barlow, of Raleigh Close, Saltford, was found guilty of 14 sex offences at Bristol Crown Court and sentenced to four years for the abuse.
But today, three senior judges in London said it is "arguable" that something went wrong at the trial and granted permission for a full appeal hearing.
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Lord Justice Leveson, sitting today with Mr Justice Bean and Judge Michael Stokes QC, warned Barlow's lawyers that it was only the first step in his attempt to clear his name.
His barrister, James Scobie QC, had put forward four grounds of appeal, but was today told only one of them was worthy of a full hearing.
The judges rejected claims that the prosecution had made an "unfairly prejudicial" comment during the trial which affected the safety of the convictions.
And they said the trial judge was right to refuse to allow the defence to adduce evidence of the two victims' and a witness' alleged "bad character".
The evidence was of a previous complaint of abuse which resulted in no police involvement, of one of the girl's misbehaviour in and out of school and a witness' conviction for fraud.
But Mr Scobie also complained that the trial judge was wrong to refuse to allow the defence lawyers at the trial to put certain questions to one of the witnesses.
The unaired questions would have been about a conversation during which another witness was alleged to have spoken of her belief that Barlow was innocent, he said.
Mr Justice Bean said: "We consider that there is a sufficiently arguable case for Mr Scobie to be able to present an appeal on that ground before the full court."
The judges granted public funding for Barlow's appeal against three convictions for sexual assault, 10 for sexual activity with a child and one for voyeurism.
No date was set for the full hearing of his appeal.