Tag Archives: Ched Evans

Tenth person to pay compensation for naming Ched Evans rape victim

Last year, we reported that nine individuals were ordered to pay compensation for naming the victim in the Ched Evans rape case. Initially there was confusion as to whether the sentences imposed were fines, compensation, or a mixture of the two.

Reports later confirmed that the £624 figure was a Compensation Order.

Today we learn from news reports that Alexandria Hewitt, aged 19, admitted identifying the victim on Facebook and Twitter. She had initially pleaded not guilty, according to the BBC report.

The offence admitted is contrary to Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 1992 s 1. Section 1 prohibits the publication of the name (amongst other things) of an alleged victim of certain offences for their lifetime, if it may lead to the public to identify that person.

It was said of Hewitt that she did not realise that what she had done was illegal, and that she felt that the victim ought to be named. She later accepted that her comments were inappropriate.

Sentence

The court ordered Hewitt to pay a £405 fine, the same £624 Compensation Order and costs of £600.

The figure of compensation is the same as the others who pleaded guilty in November. The costs order was presumably ordered against Hewitt and not the nine others who had previously pleaded guilty in order to reflect the time and money that her initial plea of not guilty had caused.

Another consideration is that it was said on Hewitt’s behalf that she had initially denied the charge because of a question over whether comments sent only to friends on Facebook constituted public comments.

Having obtained clarification it was now clear that an offence had been committed, he said. In such situations, the reduction in sentence for a guilty plea (starting at 1/3, and reducing the further down the process one gets) can be withheld. This is because where further information is necessary before it is reasonable to expect a defendant to plead guilty, it would not be fair to reduce the credit open to them if they were to plead guilty. After all, would it be right to induce Hewitt to plead guilty (by reducing her credit for a guilty plea) if she wasn’t sure that she was guilty of the offence? I think not.

Judge’s comments

District Judge Andrew Shaw, who previously sentenced the other two women and seven men who named the rape victim, said the only penalty open to him was a fine.

“You identified a victim of rape without considering the consequences and without a full understanding of exactly what you were doing,” he told Hewitt.

Advertisements

£624 Compensation Order for naming Ched Evans’ rape victim on Twitter/Facebook

EDIT: This article has been edited to correct the previously held belief that the offenders were fined. This was based on news reports published at the conclusion of the hearing.

Ched Evans was jailed for the rape of a 19-year-old girl. He received 5 years after a trial in April. Between 20 and 22 April, the victim’s name was published on social media sites.

Ten people were accused of naming the victim of the rape, contrary to Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 1992 s 1. Nine of the individuals pleaded guilty to the offence under section 1(1) of the 1992 Act, which includes social media such as Twitter and Facebook. A tenth person pleaded not guilty. The named victim was accused of ‘crying rape’ and ‘money grabbing’ on social networking sites.

Lifetime anonymity

Section 1 prohibits the publication of the name (amongst other things) of an alleged victim of certain offences for their lifetime, if it may lead to the public to identify that person.

Compensation Order

Each of those who pleaded guilty had imposed upon them a Compensation Order of £624.

The power to make a compensation order comes from the PCC(S)A 2000 ss 130-132. Compensation orders are available where it can be shown that there has been some loss incurred. This loss may be personal injury, loss or damage resulting from the offence of which the defendant has been convicted.

General principles include the requirement to make a ‘just’ order on the information it has, the compensation is not considered an additional punishment, and of course, the loss must be fairly said to have resulted from the offence. Compensation Orders are not a means of ‘buying’ a shorter sentence and are simply a convenient summary means of ‘putting things right’.

Comment

In the absence of published sentencing remarks, it is unclear whether any punishment was imposed. However one may think it rather odd the compensation order (which is not seen as a punishment) was the only order the court made in this case. Without a punitive sentence, is the court demonstrating that it doesn’t see the offence of naming a rape victim as a serious one? This is particularly relevant as in recent months there has been debate as to the consistency in sentencing and whether the sentences imposed by the courts truly reflect the criminality in each case.

Ched Evan’s is appealing his conviction in the Court of Appeal on Tuesday.