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Suspended Sentence Obscene Publications Act Crown Court 2023

Our client was charged with Publish an obscene article 01/11/2021 - 31/01/2022 having published an obscene article, namely communication with another encouraging sexual offences.

'Contrary to section 2(1) of the Obscene Publications Act 1959. Our client instructed us on a private basis to represent them in this novel area of law. Instructing solicitors and specialist counsel advised the client of the merits of their case and advised them that they should plead guilty.

The maximum penalty was 5 years imprisonment. We secured an 8 months suspended term of imprisonment with 35 days rehabilitation activity requirement and 150 hours unpaid work

This case involved communicating with another, between November 2021 and January 2022, during which she has encouraged sexual offences in a telephone text chat with a casual sexual partner she had met online.

The Obscene Publications Act 1959 (“the Act”) criminalises the publication (whether or not for gain) of an obscene article. It also criminalises a person who has an obscene article for publication for gain (personal gain, or gain for another), to be interpreted in accordance with the provisions of the Obscene Publications Act 1964.

This offence covers sending obscene text messages - Obscene” has a meaning provided for by section 1(1) of the Act. This meaning is different to the ordinary meaning of obscene  (“repulsive”, “filthy”, “loathsome” or “lewd”) and it will not suffice for the prosecution to prove that the articles concerned meet that ordinary meaning of obscenity unless they also meet the higher threshold of having a tendency to depravity or corruption:

 The client had engaged in conversation of a sexual nature with a person whom they had met through a BDSM dating app. The conversation soon moved on to discussions of rape and sexual activity with young females alongside graphic description of sexual acts to be played out. The other person involved in the conversation was arrested for unrelated offences, downloads of their phone implicated our client in publishing articles of an obscene nature.

Mitigation was put forward on behalf of the client detailing the fact they had no previous convictions, That they had believed they were partaking in a fantasy role play and the impact proceedings have had on the client’s mental health. In passing judgment the honourable judge made clear he did not believe this was a case which warranted immediate custody and was convinced by our preparation which enabled counsel’s effective mitigation that custody could be suspended.


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