Prosecutors tackle first revenge porn case in the West Midlands

13/08/2015

A 25-year-old man from Kidderminster has today been given a 12 month community order, with a requirement to attend a 30 day rehabilitation programme, as prosecutors continue to tackle revenge porn across England and Wales using the new legislation.

Alex Till, who was the first person in the West Midlands to be convicted of revenge pornography, was sentenced at Kidderminster Magistrates' Court  after he pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to disclosing on Facebook, a private photograph of the victim which was of a sexually explicit nature, without her consent.

In June 2015, the defendant sent the victim a Facebook message from a false account using the private sexual photograph of the victim as his profile picture. This caused the victim enormous distress.

The matter was reported to the police who subsequently arrested the defendant and charged him with an offence contrary to Section 33 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015.

Till was also fined £73, ordered to pay costs of £85 and a victim surcharge of £60.

Lionel Idan, Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor from West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), said:

"Alex Till sought revenge against the victim by posting a sexually explicit photograph onto a social media website without the victim's permission.

"This deliberate and callous act was intended to cause the victim maximum distress, humiliation and embarrassment.

"Such criminal actions will not be tolerated by the CPS and the police and we will do everything in our power to obtain justice for victims of this crime by robustly prosecuting all those who engage in such malicious activity.

"The CPS has introduced new guidelines for its prosecutors on revenge porn and I urge anyone who has been a victim of such a crime to report it to the police and to help us bring such offenders to justice."

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.