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The Bristol Cable

‘He should have been removed long ago’

A man who exposed his genitals to women and children in a residential tower block continues to live among his victims.

Life in Lansdowne

Bristol City Council has come under fire for not rehousing a convicted sex offender after he repeatedly exposed his genitals in communal areas of the tower block he and his victims live in.

Alan Cox, 68, exposed himself to women and children in Lansdowne Court in Easton on three occasions: once in the building’s lift, and twice in the laundry room that is shared by all residents.

After pleading guilty in May to three exposure offences, which he committed between November 2020 and August 2021, Cox last week avoided jail when he was sentenced at Bristol Magistrates Court.

It’s not fair that I have to feel the after effects of this

Victim

Cox was instead issued with a two-year community order, a 40-day rehabilitation requirement, and a Sexual Harm Prevention Order, which bans him from entering the tower block’s lift and laundry room if a woman or someone under 18 is present.

One of Cox’s victims said the sex offender should have been removed from the building after he was arrested, or at least when he pleaded guilty to the offences. She added that she has not been informed about whether he will be removed in future.

He shouldn’t be living near children

Despite imposing the Sexual Harm Prevention Order, which was applied for by Avon and Somerset Police, a judge raised concerns last Friday that parts of it would be “unpoliceable”, and Bristol City Council has since faced calls to remove Cox from the building.

The court heard how his victims had been left “traumatised”, and fear bumping into Cox in Lansdowne’s communal areas as they wouldn’t know how to cope with seeing him on a regular basis. 

Bristol City Council told the Cable it reviews the tenancy of anyone who is found guilty of an offence within the block where they live. The Cable understands that Cox would be leaving Lansdowne, but it was not immediately clear when, or if this is as a result of the council’s review.

One of Cox’s victims told the Cable she was scared – for herself and her children – to continue living in the same building as him after the incidents.

“Our children aren’t safe. I don’t understand how someone like that can continue to live here after doing something like that,” she said.

“What can I do? He’s still in the building. I’m not happy to see this person. He should not be living in an area where children are – not in our building or somewhere else… I would be very happy if he wasn’t around. I would not have to be anxious.”

“He should have been removed long ago when I first complained. Every time [I leave home] I am hoping not to see him. And I have seen him since in the building. I believe the way they have been dealing with this is not how it’s supposed to be done.”

The case comes as residents of Lansdowne have told the Cable of their concerns about a number of issues, including persistent antisocial behaviour, child safety and poor living conditions, as part of a new series that will also explore wider issues linked to high-rise living and social housing.

On 18 November 2020, Cox entered Lansdowne’s laundry room and exposed his penis to a woman who was there with a young child. The incident, the court heard, lasted between five and 10 minutes.

A week later he exposed himself to the same woman, again in the laundry room. This time a child was not present. The victim said Cox was encouraging her to look at his penis when he was only a few feet away from her.

In August 2021, Cox exposed himself to another woman and two young children, in the lift of the high-rise building. The woman took a photo of Cox, which would later be used as evidence against him.

In a statement read out in court, she said: “I just have to pray that I won’t see him getting in the lift. I don’t know how I would cope having to see him. It’s not fair that I have to feel the after effects of this.”

The offences all took place in Lansdowne Court, a high-rise residential block in Easton (Photo: Julian Preece)

‘Parts of the order are unpoliceable’

Cox has been banned from entering the building’s lift and its laundry room if a woman or person under the age of 18 is present, as part of the Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) that was imposed on him at his sentencing hearing.

Judge Jo Lyons, imposing the order at Bristol Magistrates Court on Friday, told Cox the incidents were “serious” and “frightening” offences that his victims would remember for their whole lives. 

Lyons told the court: “It [the lift or laundry room] is a space you have to use. You’re taking advantage of women in that situation and exposing yourself to children who would be very frightened.”

She acknowledged, however, that Cox may have difficulty complying with the order due to his disability – he has trouble walking and uses a walking stick – and suggested parts of it would be “unpoliceable”.

The court also heard that Cox is now using an external laundrette to avoid the laundry room in Lansdowne Court, but that he may need to use it again in future if his disability worsens.

Lyons, addressing these concerns, said that the local authority could have a role in taking further action against Cox. “If the council wants to move him that’s another matter.”

‘It’s mostly families here, and they’re rightly worried

A Bristol City Council spokesperson, asked about steps it could take now that Cox has been sentenced, said it reviews the tenancy of anyone who is found guilty of an offence within the block where they live. 

They added: “Our primary aim at all times is to ensure that other tenants’ and residents’ safety is maintained and where appropriate, action can be taken against anyone’s tenancy where we have reason to believe they pose a risk to others. 

“This can include moving the perpetrator to safeguard other residents. Where court orders are in place we work with partners in the police to ensure the terms of such orders are complied with and any breaches are immediately reported to the right authorities to consider possible enforcement.”

An Avon and Somerset Police spokesperson said that the sexual harm prevention order would restrict Cox’s access to children and prevent him from being in areas of the building when under 18s or women he doesn’t know are present. 

They said the force’s neighbourhood policing team would continue to work closely with residents to address any further worries or concerns, adding: “We’ll continue to work with our partner agencies to keep residents safe, and if any of the conditions of the SHPO are breached, we’ll deal with it robustly.”

But a resident of Lansdowne, speaking to the Cable on condition of anonymity, said Cox shouldn’t be allowed to live in the building, which is home to many families with young children. 

They said the incidents also raise questions about whether vulnerable people, and children, should be housed in blocks like theirs.

“If you’re in a house then you’re going to be a lot safer. In an environment like this it’s easier for things like this to happen. It’s mostly families here, there are lots of children and parents are rightly worried.”

Cox will remain on the sex offenders register for five years, and to pay a £95 victim surcharge that will be taken in monthly instalments from his benefits. He will not be allowed contact with children without prior contact with social services.

This article is part of a series on life at Lansdowne Court and the wider issues of high-rise living and social housing. Share your own experiences, as a resident of the tower block or elsewhere in the city, and stay tuned for future stories on poor living conditions and the impact of a tragic death.

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