Privacy Law

Conviction for Sex With Bike Sparks Freewheeling Debate

Caught in the midst of a sexual act, behind a locked door in his own bedroom with … his bicycle, a 51-year-old Scottish man is now a convicted sex criminal.

After being literally caught with his pants down, Robert Stewart of Ayr admitted a sexually aggravated breach of the peace, and was sentenced to probation and put on a sex offender registry for three years, according to the British Broadcasting Corp. However, news of his conviction has sparked considerable criticism, and a human rights lawyer says it raises important privacy issues that could have been a basis for a successful defense.

Exactly what Stewart finds sexually appealing about his bike wasn’t clear from news accounts. However, an earlier BBC story says he was arrested after cleaners at the hostel at which he was staying got a master key and opened the locked door to his bedroom. Apparently they intended to clean the room but instead were reportedly “extremely shocked” to discover Stewart in a compromising position with his bike.

The prosecution contended the cleaners knocked several times before using the key. Stewart said the situation was a misunderstanding caused by his having too much to drink.

At least one observer has complained that a woman caught with a sex toy would never have been treated the same way, and John Scott, a human rights lawyer, tells the BBC that the case implicates important privacy issues that apparently weren’t considered by the court because they weren’t raised.

In general, such activity shouldn’t be considered criminal, Scott says. “What I would say to a client of mine that wanted to do this kind of thing is as long as it’s behind a bolted door, with an inanimate object, then each to their own.”

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