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Prosecutors being advised to learn from revenge porn cases across the country to help them tackle this "humiliating" crime

07/08/2015

Since the introduction of the new Revenge Pornography law in April the CPS has brought cases across England and Wales using the new legislation. The first defendant believed to have been convicted is due to be sentenced today, (Friday 7th August), and details of the cases brought so far have this week been circulated to prosecutors across the CPS to help them use the new legislation most effectively.

Jason Asagba, 21, due to be sentenced at Reading Magistrates Court after he was convicted of posting, texting and emailing intimate photos without the woman's consent with intent to cause her distress under the new Revenge Pornography legislation.  He pleaded guilty and was convicted on 16th May.

In this case the victim did not consent to having the pictures taken and was asleep when they were taken.

Asagba sent the pictures to the victim's family via text and he sent the victim a picture via email.  He also hacked into the victim's Facebook account and shared an image on her timeline.

It was clear from his actions that Asagba intended to cause the woman distress and embarrassment.  Sharing these pictures in a public forum was vindictive and criminal.

Alison Saunders, Director of Public Prosecutions, said: "Revenge pornography is a particularly distressing crime for the victim which is often, but not always, brought about by the vengeful actions of former partners. It is a violation of trust between two people and its purpose is to publicly humiliate.

"Prior to the new law, crimes were dealt with by using other areas of legislation such as the Malicious Communications Act 1988.  I am pleased that these crimes can now be prosecuted as an offence in their own right, reassuring victims that it is a recognised offence and it is being taken seriously by the authorities.

"The new offence has only been in force since April, therefore, it is too early for us to be able to say what impact this is having on the number of prosecutions, however, anecdotally we are seeing more of these cases being brought to us by the police and it is clear that the new legislation is having an impact.  I am pleased that awareness of these cases of revenge pornography is growing so victims come forward to report these nasty crimes and prosecutions are brought where we have sufficient evidence.

"Within the CPS I am ensuring that all relevant staff have the most up to date guidance, and the benefit of learning from their colleagues, so we have circulated details of case studies we now have to help improve our expertise in using the new legislation."

The Attorney General, Jeremy Wright QC MP said: "We live in a world where images are able to be shared instantaneously and the criminal justice system needs to keep pace with that reality.  I am pleased that the CPS's guidance highlights the significant impact that these offences have on their victims.

"This case shows that anyone maliciously and deliberately distributing intimate pictures of people without their consent can and will be brought to justice"

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 might 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.

Completed cases:

  • Sam Colley, 35, was sentenced on 7th July at Barkingside Magistrates Court to 12 weeks imprisonment suspended for 18 months after he pleaded guilty to an offence of Revenge Pornography.  He was convicted after pleading guilty to sending an intimate picture of a woman to members of her family via Facebook and threatening to post further pictures online.
  • Clayton Kennedy, 21, was sentenced on 6th July at Cardiff Magistrates Court to a 12 month Community Order, fined £110 and ordered to pay court costs of £295 and given an indefinite restraining order.  He posted intimate pictures of a woman onto Facebook, the victim was not aware the photo had even been taken, causing further distress. He was charged with Revenge Pornography on 28th May and pleaded guilty on 22nd June.
  • Paul Marquis, 30, was sentenced on 30th June at Teesside Magistrates Court to an 18 week suspended sentence, received a tagged curfew and ordered to pay costs and compensation.  He was charged on 1st June after he sent an intimate image of a woman to her friend, he pleaded guilty and was convicted on 9th June.
  • Jamie Law, 25, pleaded guilty and was convicted on 2nd July at Feltham Magistrates Court and was sentenced at Uxbridge Magistrates Court to 12 weeks imprisonment and a restraining order was granted for 3 years. He was charged with Revenge Pornography after sending pictures of a woman to her brother.
  • Luke Brimson, 29, was charged on 16th July with Revenge Pornography after he distributed intimate pictures of a woman inside and outside of a supermarket. He appeared on 30th July at Woodspring Magistrates Court where he was sentenced to 24 weeks in prison suspended for 18 months, given a two year Restraining Order and made to pay costs. (There is a s46 direction - press restriction preventing the woman's details from being disclosed)

On-going cases:

  • Alex Till, 25, will be sentenced at Kidderminster Magistrates Court on 13th August after he pleaded guilty to posting an intimate image of a woman on Facebook.
  • John Duffin, 35, pleaded guilty and was convicted of Revenge Pornography on 17th July at Bristol Magistrates Court after saving an intimate picture of a woman and setting it as his 'Whatsapp' profile picture, which would allow all of his contacts to view it. He is due to be sentenced at Bristol MC on 13th August.
  • Simon Humphrey, 40, will be sentenced on 27th August after he pleaded guilty and was convicted of Revenge Pornography on 24th July at St. Albans Magistrates Court. Humphrey was convicted after he changed his Facebook profile picture to an intimate picture of a woman allowing it to be seen by all of his friends and associates.
  • Paige Mitchell, 23, was charged on 3rd July with Revenge Porn after she uploaded intimate pictures of a woman to her Facebook account.  She had her first hearing at Stevenage Magistrates Court on 4th August and pleaded guilty, she will be sentenced on 1st September.
  • William Nelson, 52, pleaded guilty and was convicted of Revenge Pornography on 29th July at Croydon Magistrates Court.  Nelson created a false account on Facebook where he shared about 30 pictures of a woman whose friends alerted her after they had seen the profile. He will be sentenced on 26th August.

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.
  • The issue in cases of 'revenge pornography' will be whether the message or communication is grossly offensive, indecent, obscene or false, not whether the image itself is indecent or obscene.
  • 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.

Ends

Notes to Editors

  1. Not for publication: Please be aware that case details provided are aimed at not identifying the victims in these cases.
  2. Not for Publication: Whilst we are not aware of any other reporting restrictions, it is the responsibility of the reporter to check.
  3. For media enquiries call the CPS Press Office on 020 3357 0906; Out of Hours Pager 07699 781 926
  4. The CPS consists of 13 Areas in total, each headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP). In addition, there are three national casework divisions: Specialist Fraud (formerly Central Fraud and Welfare, Rural & Health Divisions), Special Crime & Counter Terrorism and Organised Crime. CPS Direct is a 'virtual' 14th Area which provides charging decisions to all police forces and other investigators across England and Wales - it operates twenty-four hours, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
  5. At 31 March 2014 we employed a workforce of approximately 6237 staff (full time equivalent), including around 2226 prosecutors and 3629 caseworkers and administrators. Further information can be found on our website:  www.cps.gov.uk.
  6. The CPS, together with ACPO and media representatives, has developed a Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media. This sets out the type of prosecution material that will normally be released, or considered for release, together with the factors we will take into account when considering requests. Read the Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media.