A man whose life was ruined when he was charged with child sex offences after looking at legal gay pornography in a hotel room has accused the police and Crown Prosecution Service of a homophobic witch-hunt after his case was finally thrown out.
The defendant endured a two-year nightmare after being arrested in front of his family, charged with 10 offences almost a year later and repeatedly bailed, before every charge was dropped.
The CPS, which spent tens of thousands of pounds of taxpayers' money pursuing the case, offered no evidence in court -- in effect conceding there was no case to answer. His lawyers say they gave the CPS conclusive documentary evidence three months ago
that all models featured in the pornography were of legal age.
The defendant's nightmare began during a business trip in September 2011 when he viewed images on a website specialising in twink pornography. Twink is a well-known term in gay slang for small or young-looking men who are aged 18 or over. Perhaps
a male equivalent to 'barely legal'
When a female guest who stayed in the same room the following week saw the computer's browsing history she complained to the hotel and staff called the police. Six months later, in March 2012, the man was arrested at his father's home.
Speaking after the trial closed the man said:
I can only conclude that the police officers and the CPS showed institutional homophobia throughout this case. I doubt I would have been treated the same way if heterosexual pornography was involved. Police... were obviously clueless about pornography --
as were the CPS.
In January this year the CPS charged the man with nine counts of making indecent images and one count of possessing indecent images.
He was represented by Myles Jackman, the leading obscenity lawyer who has won several victories in so-called porn trial cases. Mr Jackman obtained signed USC 2257 documents, required by adult websites to prove models they use are not underage, and
photographs of all the men involved in the website holding up their passports, which clearly show their dates of birth.
Mr Jackman told The Independent: The CPS has at best showed an ignorance of gay culture and at worst showed itself to be institutionally homophobic. USC 2257 is extremely stringent US federal legislation which the defendant said the police were
completely unaware of.
Mr Jackman said he had complained to Keir Starmer, the outgoing Director of Public Prosecutions, about the CPS's conduct in what he called the Twink Trial but is yet to receive a reply.
Comment: The CPS clearly didn't bother trying to investigate whether the pictures were actually underage
Throughout these aborted proceedings, we repeatedly stated that all the performers in question were over the age of 18. Despite this, the prosecution has always maintained that it was a matter for a jury to decide the age of the performers. However, we
were able to prove how old the performers were. In spite of this the police and prosecution consistently failed to make further inquiries regarding the source and context of the images.
In June, our IT expert Paul Vella contacted the website directly. It confirmed it complied with USC Title 2257 legislation, which requires adult websites to keep records verifying a performer's age against their passport details, as well as keeping
signed model release forms .
It supplied us with all these details for all the performers on the entire website. We presented these details to the prosecution immediately. It was possible to compare the passport photos of the performers in question with their pictures on the
Unfortunately, the prosecution in this case refused meaningfully to engage with the evidence we supplied. As a final resort, we complained to Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer QC's office. We failed to receive the reply we were promised.
A man was found with almost 700 images of women performing sex acts with animals, including some unlikely sounding examples such as snakes,
elephants and tigers Stephen Thresh walked into a police station after receiving a scam warning message on his computer that the law authorities were monitoring him.
He handed in two laptops containing hundreds of extreme pornography without realising the spam warnings were false.
Thresh pleaded guilty at Hull Crown Court to six counts of possessing the extreme images which the judge described as a very serious matter. Thresh said he had not realised it was illegal to view such images after the law changed in 2009.
Thresh was given a four-month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months. He was ordered to have 12 months' supervision from the Probation Service and perform 60 hours of unpaid work. Thresh will not be placed on the Sex Offenders Register and the judge
declined to make a Sexual Offences Prevention Order. Judge Mark Bury told him:
You went to the police station with two laptops. You did so because one of them had effectively closed down as a result of you accessing sites containing extreme porn images. One contained 689 extreme images involving females taking part in some sex acts
with animals, mainly dogs and horses.
I'm told that other animals were involved, snakes, tigers and an elephant. That number of images, depicting that level of extreme activity, is a very serious matter. Whatever the mitigation, this offence crosses the custody threshold. Ignorance of the
law is no excuse.
However, you handed yourself in, you were frank in interview and you pleaded guilty. It is of note that none of the images concerned involved children.
Four men were found guilty of pirating porn DVDs after customers complained about the poor quality of the videos to Trading Standards. In
addition to being recorded badly, they were also too short.
Fred Thompson, who formerly ran an unlicensed sex shop in Hull called Adult Erotica, ran the operation aided by Shaun Langley, Nigel Maw and his son David Maw. They distributed their products, under the name Fantasy Dome, via mail order and through the
The prosecutor claimed that viewers somehow benefit from censorship by the BBFC. Somehow neglecting to mention how many films are not available to view simply because it expensive BBFC fees are uneconomic for small distribution.
Prosecutor Charlene Sumnall said:
This is not a case about the morality of porn or adult entertainment. Whether you like it or not, there is a market for legitimate porn and thousands of customers use it every day. Those customers, like any others, deserve protection from being
defrauded. Just like any other release, it has to go before the film board to see if it is lawful and OK to be sold.
A jury unanimously convicted the four men after a three-week trial. Judge Murk Bury of Hull Crown Court said that sentencing will be forthcoming and may very well include jail time.
The four men who ran a counterfeit porn DVD operation in Hull have been spared jail. The men, led by former sex shop owner Frederick Thompson, were given suspended prison sentences for their involvement in the operation.
The group copied and distributed tens of thousands of pornographic pirate DVDs.
The operation was not particularly lucrative and taxpayers will have to foot the £54,000 bill for prosecuting the group because none of them can afford to pay towards the costs.
All four were convicted of conspiracy to make, distribute and defraud customers. Shaun Langley and both Nigel and David Maw were also convicted of possessing extreme pornographic images.
The court heard they were planning to launch a new side of the business, the Extreme shop, and had produced 10,000 flyers which were about to be sent to customers.
Fred Thompson and Nigel Maw were both sentenced to 18 months in prison, suspended for two years. Langley was given a 12-month jail term suspended for two years, while David Maw was sentenced to a six-month prison sentence, also suspended for two
Three men who hired porn stars and sex workers for a series of sex parties have been convicted but thankfully spared jail.
Patrick Stewart, Russell Staddon, and Shahid Latif, hosted fun parties featuring a bondage area, a porn room, and double beds to watch each other have sex and swap partners. The orgies - advertised as gentlemen's parties - were held in Fairfield
Road, Bow, and at a unit called Fun Times in Queen's Yard, Hackney Wick.
The party goers enjoyed sex with South American and eastern European women, who were paid around £ 150 for four hours work. The fun was ruined by miserable undercover police raided both addresses in September
Judge David Higgins described the orgies as deplorable , but said his sentence reflected the fact that the women were more than ready to participate.
Staddon also fell victim to the Dangerous Pictures Act after police found 28 extreme pornographic images, including two DVDs, showing women having sex with dogs.
Stewart was handed a 14-month sentence, suspended for two years, and will complete 200 hours unpaid work and pay £ 750 costs.
Staddon got 10 months, suspended for two years, and will complete 150 hours unpaid work and pay £ 250 costs.
Latif received a four-month sentence, suspended for two years, and must pay £ 75 and complete 80 hours unpaid work.
All three admitted conspiracy to control prostitution for gain and money laundering (nothing sinister, it just means spending the money gained from the business), and Staddon also admitted possessing extreme pornography.
A victim of the Dangerous Pictures Act who was caught with a few extreme porn images has had his jail term slashed by Court of Appeal judges.
Keith Livesey had a laptop containing about 300 images, including five videos, all featuring unspecified extreme pornography. He was initially jailed for 14 months at Preston Crown Court in June, after admitting three counts of possessing extreme
pornographic images. But, at a hearing in London, his sentence was cut to four months, with three of the country's most senior judges saying the original term was too long .
The court heard Livesey handed over his laptop to police and told them what they would find on it after they went to his house for an unrelated matter in October last year.
Sentencing him, the original crown court judge claimed some of the women in the images looked as though they were being exploited and that a trade in such images was only possible because of men like him who who downloaded them for pleasure.
His lawyers argued his sentence was over the top, given that he didn't pose a danger to anyone and was not likely to reoffend. The barrister said:
If there was ever a case where the clang of the prison gates itself would have been deterrent enough, bearing in mind the appellant's remorse, then this was it.
Allowing his appeal, Mr Justice Lewis said the circumstances of the case justified an element of leniency :
In our judgment, the sentence in the present case was manifestly excessive. Even though the number of extreme images involved was large and the appellant had deliberately sought them out, he had no previous convictions, was of good character and
had demonstrated remorse for his actions.
A Salford brothel owner who made was ordered to pay back money made from his illegal gains.
Victor Caplan ran Daniella's Massage Parlour on Bridge Street, Swinton, which police raided in 2011 -- finding prostitutes at work.
Now Caplan has been told that unless he repays £75,000 of his gains within six months he be locked up for just under two years.
Caplan was earning up to a modest £3,000 a month tax-free by running the brothel and £1,835 was discovered in cash at his property.
He pleaded guilty to two counts of assisting in the management of a brothel on June 14 last year at Manchester Crown Court and was sentenced to 12 months in prison, which was suspended for two years. He was also forced to carry out 240 hours unpaid work.
Turning over nearly £ 1 million in less than a year, four people who ran a lucrative and clearly popular sex trade
from a brothel in Camden, have been given prison sentences.
Vera Fosuhene, Sorient Sigba, Michael Wallen, and Simon Earl were found guilty for their part in helping run the brothel at John Mews in Holborn, Camden, central London.
All pleaded guilty, except for Sigba who was sent for a trial at Southwark Crown Court on January 17. On January 25 a jury took two hours to find him guilty for money laundering and controlling prostitution. Sigba was handed a jail term of six years --
three years for each charge.
Fosuhene, of Croydon, south London, received a nine-month sentence which has been suspended for three years. Her charges relate to assisting the management of the brothel and two counts of supplying cocaine. Earl and Wallen were given four and
two-and-a-half-year sentences, respectively.
Undercover officers from the Metropolitan Police's Trafficking and Prostitution Unit (TPU) visited the brothel after acting on intelligence that clients were being brought to the premises from nearby venues to pay for sex with young women. Presumably the
trafficking angle came to naught as no charges related to this were brought to court.
A man found with extreme pornographic images explained to a court he had them just for fun .
David Higman admitted possessing 191 pornographic images after police raided his home in August 2011. Investigators later found 182 images on a laptop and 9 videos on an iPhone.
James Hartson, for Higman, said his client was unaware the images were illegal and that they were for his amusement and not sexual gratification.
He has had the matter hanging over him for some 18 months and it's caused much stress to him and his family as well as a source of acute personal embarrassment. This experience has left him with no desire to use computers for a long time.
Judge Keith Thomas said:
Most right-minded people think this sort of images portray unpleasant and disturbing things and they do involve the exploitation of often vulnerable women. For these reasons the courts take a serious view of them.
But he said he would not jail Higman and imposed a three-year community order including supervision. He also has to pay £ 300 in costs.
Burnley Crown Court heard how John Turpin, 64, was snitched up by his former business partner's son when he checked the company computer.
Turpin admitted three counts of possessing extreme pornography and had been committed for sentence by Pennine magistrates. He was given 16 weeks in prison, suspended for 18 months, with a three-month curfew, seven days a week, between 8pm and 6am. He
must pay £ 250 costs.
The computer was examined by police staff who found 71 animal porn images, of which a lot were in the recycle bin.
Turpin was not a collector and he had no previous convictions, the court was told.
Sentencing, Judge Robert Altham said:
It seems to me that this is a sentence that ought to be suspended. The reasons that I am suspending the sentence are that you are somebody who is unlikely to commit any further offences The fact of appearing in this court will be a highly salutary lesson
A man hit out at authorities after he was hit with a £ 140,000 fine for running two brothels in Leeds.
Raymond Telford who has been operating the businesses in the city for more than 25 years, was ordered to pay the sum after a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing at Leeds Crown Court.
The case related to police raids on a flat in the city centre on Kirkgate and an address on Bayswater Road, Harehills, in December 2010, where prostitutes were found to be working and clients accepted they were paying for sexual services.
Reacting to the decision of the court, Telford pointed out that British law endangers sex workers:
What most people don't understand is that by closing me down they are just endangering more working girls.
They will continue working whatever happens but this time they will be doing it on their own where they are more vulnerable.
At my place the working girls were much safer, they had health visits each month by a doctor and got condoms and everything they needed. We have got to look at things in perspective.
I think if it went to a vote most people would agree that prostitution should be legalised as long as brothels are properly regulated.
Heelz Adult Store in Burton upon Trent is being prosecuted by East Staffordshire Borough Council for trading without a licence, even though,
according to the store, the council has not actually stated what percentage of sex products constitute a significant degree , and would thus require a licence.
Mike McGee, co-owner of R18 film publisher and distributor DVM Enterprises and also boss of Heelz Adult Store, told ETO:
We've been in talks with [the council] from when we first opened the shop two years ago. They visited us and said we needed a licence due to the 'significant degree' of sex products we stocked. They weren't able to put a figure to what a significant
degree was at the time, but we had an interview with them last December -- under caution, making us feel like criminals, and recording it -- and asked why we'd not applied. We only hold a small range of what they class as stimulating items -- toys,
whatever -- and explained this.
After the meeting they came back down in the New Year and saw that we'd taken it upon ourselves to reduce the number of 'sex items' to a small range -- as they'd not been able to tell us what was too much. They said at that time that we should ignore the
deadline they'd given us to apply for a licence and we didn't hear anything more from them. Although that stockholding's not changed, we did put up a new sign calling Heelz an Adult Store -- not a sex shop -- and soon afterwards they were back in again,
giving us a letter saying we needed to apply for a licence.
I'd say we've a smaller proportion of sex lines than Ann Summers, but that's not been good enough for them. A few weeks ago we were asked to go in for another meeting but while trying to get dates together for that a court summons has arrived.
Stafford Magistrates Court was the scene of a sex establishment licensing row when a case brought by East Staffordshire Borough Council against Heelz
Adult Store of Burton-Upon-Trent was heard by three magistrates.
Two separate charges relating to running an unlicensed sex shop were dismissed.
Earlier, the magistrates had heard from East Staffs BC's chief licensing officer Margaret Woolley who'd visited the shop in the preceding December and January, Brian Davies, an environmental health officer, and the two men sent in to make a test
purchase. These men, Dwaine Drew and Liam Gratty gave conflicting evidence about the size, nature and product split of the business, and like Woolley and Davies, hadn't conducted a formal count of products, or taken measurements or photos.
Arguments centred around what constituted a sex article , with the prosecution pushing for the shop's footwear, lingerie and clothing lines to be included in a very loose interpretation of products designed to stimulate.
Magistrates explained that the prosecution had failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the shop was selling or displaying significant numbers of sex articles and that items such as clothes, shoes and boots could not reasonably be included in their
count. And since the council had no clear policy on what percentages and products made the unit trade as an unlicensed sex shop , it was unreasonable to expect Mike McGee to comply with invisible guidelines. He was found not guilty on both counts.
An application for costs was made against East Staffordshire Borough Council and they have 21 days to appeal, but this can only be done on points of law, which seems unlikely.
McGee was advised to request official, written guidance on the shop's product mix, to avoid a repeated prosecution.