CPS discontinue distribution of indecent image charge after Judicial Review claim lodged
Our client was 18 years old when he received an indecent image via WhatsApp that he forwarded to three friends via Facebook Messenger. His Facebook account was briefly blocked, and his friends did not in fact receive the image.
Nevertheless, six months later when he was 19, police executed a warrant at his address and seized all his electronic devices. During two voluntary police interviews, he made full and frank admissions and expressed remorse for his actions.
Ten months later when he was 20, the CPS decided that the charge of distribution of an indecent image, contrary to section 1 of the Protection of Children Act 1978, was appropriate on the basis that the starting point for this offence is 3 years’ in prison due to the nature of the image.
At this point we were instructed and made extensive written representations to the CPS challenging their application of the Code for Crown Prosecutors. As we considered the decision to prosecute in these exceptional circumstances so unreasonable as to be unlawful, we subsequently filed a Judicial Review claim having first completed the pre-action protocol.
Lawyers on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecutions requested a stay to the High Court proceedings so that a fresh review could take place which allowed us the opportunity to present the report of a clinical psychologist and confirm our client’s voluntary engagement with the Lucy Faithfull Foundation.
The result of our efforts was that the criminal proceedings were discontinued (without a caution even being administered), which means our client preserves his good name and, of course, does not appear on the sex offender’s register.
David Bloom instructed Adrian Darbishire QC and Rachna Gokani of QEB Hollis Whiteman Chambers.