First woman sentenced for 'Revenge Porn' - Stevenage

01/09/2015

A woman appeared at Stevenage Magistrates’ Court today, Tuesday, 01 September 2015, and was sentenced to six weeks imprisonment suspended for 18 months after pleading guilty to disclosing private sexual photographs with intent to cause distress to another woman and assault by beating. She was also made the subject of a rehabilitation activity requirement for 50 days and ordered to pay costs.

Paige Mitchell is believed to be the first female to be prosecuted for revenge pornography under the new legislation, which makes it an offence to disclose private sexual photographs and films without the consent of the individual who appears in them and with the intent to cause that individual distress.

At an earlier hearing, Mitchell admitted attacking the victim during an argument. She then went on to post explicit photos of the victim on to her Facebook profile later that day.  Mitchell went on to caption the pictures with humiliating insults and even referenced the assault.

Joanna Coleman, Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor for Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said: "These vengeful crimes are predominantly thought of as being carried out by men. This sentencing will highlight that anyone can be guilty of this offence and regardless of the defendant's gender, once reported, it will be taken seriously.

"Crimes where an intimate image of an individual is shared without their permission in such a public forum is invasive, humiliating and distressing for the victim and leaves them feeling violated.

"It can have a huge impact on the victim and I am pleased that more people are having the confidence to come forward and report these crimes."

Additional Information

In April 2015, the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 created a new criminal offence of Revenge Pornography, making it a criminal offence to disclose private sexual photographs and films without the consent of an individual who appears in them and with the intent to cause that individual distress. A typical case of revenge pornography would involve an ex-partner uploading an intimate image of the victim to the Internet or sending it to their friends and family.  It is carried out with the intention of causing distress, humiliation and embarrassment to the victim.
Previously, these cases have been prosecuted under other areas of legislation, such as the Communications Act 2003, Malicious Communications Act 1988 or the Harassment Act 1997. Under the new legislation someone convicted of an offence could face up to two years in prison and receive a fine.

The guidance on Revenge Porn outlines:

  • Revenge Porn is the sharing of private, sexual materials, either photos or videos, of another person without their consent and with the purpose of causing embarrassment or distress. The images are sometimes accompanied by personal information about the subject, including their full name, address and links to their social media profiles.
  • The offence applies both online and offline and to images which are shared electronically or in a more traditional way so includes the uploading of images on the internet, sharing by text and e-mail, or showing someone a physical or electronic image.
  • To fall within the offence, a photograph or film would have to be private and sexual. This could include an image that depicted an individual's exposed genitals, or a picture of someone who is engaged in sexual behaviour or posing in a sexually provocative way, if what is shown is not of a kind ordinarily seen in public.
  • Section 1 of the Malicious Communications Act 1988 deals with the sending of electronic communications which are indecent, grossly offensive, threatening or false, provided there is an intention to cause distress or anxiety to the recipient.
  • Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 makes it an offence to send or cause to be sent through a 'public electronic communications network' a message that is 'grossly offensive' or of an 'indecent, obscene or menacing character'.
  • Where there is more than one incident, or the incident forms part of a course of conduct directed towards an individual, a charge of harassment should be considered.
    Where the images may have been taken when the victim was under 18, prosecutors will consider offences under the Protection of Children Act 1978.
  • In the most serious cases, where intimate images are used to coerce victims into further sexual activity, other offences under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 will be considered.

The CPS cannot provide legal advice, therefore if you have any questions regarding the naming of the victim you should seek your own independent legal advice.