Radio Sandwell Miscellanea

'Revenge porn' boyfriend escapes jail sentence

2014-10-02 13:26:10

Thomas Samuel
Thomas Samuel posted five images of 'revenge
porn' online then invited the victim's friends and
family to view them

A jilted boyfriend who posted 'jaw-dropping' revenge porn online and attracted more than 50,000 views has escaped a jail sentence.

Thomas Samuel, 45, posted the explicit pictures of his ex after a bitter break-up and shared them with the victim's family and friends.

But despite Facebook removing the pictures within hours, they were shared and ended up on pornographic websites.

Samuel admitted sending a communication conveying indecent images and said he had acted in spite after the girl posted 'unsavoury' details about him online.

He was handed six months behind bars, suspended for two years.

The woman told Bristol Magistrates' Court: 'They have caused me massive embarrassment and huge stress to me and my family.'

She added she was constantly in fear of seeing him again and was also consumed by the knowledge that many people in the community where she lives were aware of the pictures.

The court heard the pictures were first uploaded to Facebook after the couple argued following their split in March this year.

Samuel claimed he took the steps after his partner circulated details about him on the site which he did not like.

Before creating a spoof profile Samuel sent his ex-girlfriend a number of text messages, warning her not to tell other people their business.

One read: 'I see you like telling everyone our business. You won't mind if I share a few photos with your friends.'

While another said: 'As we are sharing info with everyone, I will share your favourite photos.'

Samuel, of Lawrence Hill, Bristol, then sent 15 to 20 friends requests from the spoof account to various people she knew of.

A couple of hours later, the former partner started receiving calls from family and friends telling her what had appeared on a Facebook page bearing her name.

One friend, who accepted the request, said she saw a number of 'extremely explicit' pictures of the woman performing a sex act and other photos of a similar nature.

She described the pictures as 'jaw-dropping'.

Thomas Samuel
Thomas Samuel, left, avoided prison after his six month sentence was suspended for two years

Thomas Samuel
Samuel was also given a restraining order prohibiting him from contacting his former partner

Facebook was made aware of the account and the profile was taken down within two hours.

But the court heard the pictures had remained online and, after putting her own name into a search engine, she found the pictures on pornographic websites.

She discovered one picture had been viewed 48,000 times.

The woman said the pictures had been taken on Samuel's Samsung phone when the two were together.

Bridget Sanger, defending Samuel, said the situation was 'entirely regrettable' and the full consequences 'were not foreseen'.

She said that Samuel had uploaded the pictures 'as a last resort' to stop abuse he was getting as a result of damaging comments put online by his ex-partner.

The court heard that Samuel, who has done community work, youth work and charity work, lost his job when his employers found out about the case.

Robert Stacey, chairman of the bench, said the offence crossed the custody threshold, and he would have to give Samuel a prison sentence.

But he suspended the sentence and also made him subject to a restraining order prohibiting him from contacting his former partner.

Samuel was ordered to undertake 180 hours of community work, pay court costs of £86 and pay a victim surcharge of £80.

Victim of revenge porn goes public to raise awareness (related):

REVENGE PORN: LAWS ON THE HORIZON

Victims of revenge porn have rarely been able to access justice as the term is not deemed a crime under Home Office classifications.

On rare occasions, police have been able to press charges when the suspect's behaviour has encroached onto other legal territory - for example, blackmailing a victim or when the images are of children.

Legislation, most of which pre-dates social media such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, means prosecutions could be brought under the Communications Act 2003, Malicious Communications Act 1988 and the 1997 Protection from Harassment Act.

But a rise in the awareness of revenge pornography, partly due to high profile cases featuring celebrities, has seen politicians and campaign groups push for new laws covering revenge porn.

In July, David Cameron backed proposals to make posting revenge porn online illegal, acknowledging in the Commons it 'clearly has criminal intent'.

In September, Labour MP Geraint Davies proposed that people who are complicit in the distribution of revenge porn be prosecuted.

Speaking ahead of the presentation of his Bill, Mr Davies said: 'It's a massive issue. People think they can take pictures and push them out for people's titillation but clearly it's causing a lasting, permanent harm and distress to people.

'People need to know the law is on their side and it should not be tolerated. Clearly there will be some that get through the net due to the difficulty of pursuing the case, but that's not a reason to fail to protect the innocent from abuse.'

The Criminal Justice and Courts Bill is expected to have its Report Stage in the House of Lords on October 20. After that, there will be Third Reading in the Lords before returning to the House of Commons for consideration of amendments.

Only then would it go for Royal Assent and become law.

Source: dailymail.co.uk

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