A man walked free from court after becoming one of the first people in the country to be prosecuted under new laws that ban the possession of extreme pornographic images.
St Helens Magistrates' Court heard how the obscene photographs - depicting women and a number of animals - came to light after the 20-year-old was snitched up by computer repairers.
An engineer spotted the pictures [are they instructed to do a scan of images?] and suspecting them to be unlawful reported it to his line manager, who in turn snitched to the police.
The 14 images were claimed to be grossly offensive and disgusting .
District Judge Ian Lomax said the offender had “low social skills”, and believed he had merely viewed the images out of curiosity.
Judge Lomax, who had been shown the images involved in the prosecution, explained: This is new legislation and my inclination is for it to go before crown court. However no fee was paid, there was no file sharing and no processing. The images
were obscene and curiosity seems to be the driving force behind you. Your computer skills are good and you stay home a lot. Computers are a substitute for socialising and social skills. But nothing will be gained by sending you into custody,
because you wouldn't survive because you would be vulnerable. Support and assistance is needed.
He was given an 18-month supervision order and 24 hours at an attendance centre, where his offending behaviour will be addressed. He must also pay costs of £65, which will be deducted from his benefits.
Judge Lomax said he would not have to sign the Sex Offenders Register, concluding: Hopefully supervision will make you realise that it is possible that by looking at such images, whether it is out of curiosity, can result in a criminal
According to sources within law enforcement, there have been two or three prosecutions on their patch under the new Dangerous Pictures legislation. In each case, the crime targeted is that of Chinese men fogging very obviously pirated DVDs. There
will be several copies of the latest blockbuster releases with very bad covers, and some pornography, always including some bestiality DVDs.
According to our source, prosecutions always tended to be under counterfeiting and trademark laws. A charge under the Obscene Publications Act (OPA) has also been possible. However, the police have now taken to adding a charge under extreme porn
legislation for the bestiality DVDs. This pattern has happened at least twice and probably more.
If true, this suggests critics were right to challenge claims that it was no more than the Obscene Publications Act for the internet age. In the cases described, it would have been open to the police and prosecuting authorities to charge
individuals under the Obscene Publications Act.
If there was, as has been argued, no difference between obscenity as defined in the extreme porn law and the OPA version of obscenity, then the OPA would be the more appropriate legislation to apply. The material in question was obscene: those
caught by the police would have been guilty of seeking to distribute it, not mere possession. It looks as though the new law is more easily used than the old.
New legislation banning the possession of extreme pornography should be clarified, police in Scotland warned today.
Senior officers also warned of real challenges i n policing the new law.
The warning came from the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland in written evidence to a Holyrood committee.
Senior figures from ACPOS will today give evidence to the Justice Committee, which is scrutinising the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Bill.
The wide-ranging Bill contains a range of measures, including a new offence of possessing extreme pornography, including images depicting life-threatening acts and violence likely to cause severe injury. Under the new legislation, possession
would carry a jail term of up to three years, while possessing with intent to sell would carry a jail term of up to five years.
But ACPOS urged clarification of the term extreme pornography , saying this as subjective. It also warned of real challenges in policing material easily available on the internet, mostly on sites outside the UK containing
material which may be legal in the country of origin.
The Scottish police may also face challenge in managing the expectations of interested agencies such as Rape Crisis and violence against women groups, regarding the resource committed to and effective policing off this issue, said ACPOS.
Similar misgivings are voiced in evidence from the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency, which warns of practical difficulties in defining an extreme image.
It said this could include a realistic, but staged, depiction of a rape or sexual murder which was undoubtedly pornographic but where the victim was a willing participant who came to no harm. That left investigators with the task of
assessing not whether the act depicted had actually taken place, but whether it was "pornographic, explicit and realistic."
The agency said the legislation should also seek to mitigate the possible effects on police and other professionals required to view extreme porn as part of their work.
The censorship icon, Vase de Noces, is a 1974 Belgian art house film by Thierry Zeno.
To give you a clue it is also known as:
One Man and His Pig
The Pig Fucking Movie
The black and white film without dialogue which was very controversial in its day. It was programmed for the London Film Festival until Customs seized it. It did get a showing at the NFT in 1976 though. It's never got as far as the
It's about a man who lives alone on a farm with his pigs. He falls in love with the sow, has sex with her (simulated). She then gives birth to human/porcine hybrids.
The DVD is now set to be released on 27th May 2009 by the Swedish distributor Njuta Films.
As to whether the simulated sex scenes with a pig are realistic enough to get Brits 2 years in prison for dangerous pictures, then a bit of further research may be in order.