Pervert Gavin Smith guilty in landmark internet case
Gavin Smith is due to be
sentenced at Maidstone Crown Court
Kent Police have set a legal precedent after successfully
prosecuting a convicted pervert for making lewd comments about
children during a private online conversation.
Gavin Smith, who was jailed for two years in February 2001
for possessing indecent photographs, was charged in 2010 with nine
offences of publishing an obscene article.
At his first trial at Maidstone Crown Court in November last
year, his counsel claimed Kent Police were on a "moral
crusade" by prosecuting Smith under the Obscene Publications Act
The jury in the original trial was discharged by Judge Charles
Macdonald QC after hearing legal arguments.
But his decision was subsequently appealed by the Crown
Prosecution Service, with the Court of Appeal ruling in their
Smith, 41, of Boleyn Way, Swanscombe, was due to go on
trial for a second time this week.
But after being given a "Goodyear direction", in which a judge
indicates what the likely sentence would be if a defendant pleads
guilty, Smith admitted all nine offences – and his defence team
conceded that Kent Police had been "proved right".
Under the Obscene Publications Act, a person who publishes
material "distributes, circulates, sells, lets on hire, gives, or
lends it", and it is obscene if it tends to "deprave and corrupt"
those who are exposed to it.
"We say this is a moral crusade by Kent Police to extend the law, to try to get this material included as extreme pornography…” – barrister Roger Daniells-Smith
The court heard at the first trial that Smith had online
conversations in which he spoke about molesting and spanking
His barrister Roger Daniells-Smith told the court on that
occasion: "This is a test case. We say it is part of a political
campaign by Kent Police.
"We say this is a moral crusade by Kent Police to extend the
law, to try to get this material included as extreme
Furthermore, he informed the court during a hearing where
he acted as junior defence counsel, that Kent Police had also made
representations to Parliament when it introduced extreme
pornography as an offence as part of the Criminal Justice and
But their arguments to have online conversations included "fell
on stony ground", he said.
"They therefore had nothing other than to try (to prosecute)
under this act....and were proved right."
Adjourning sentence for reports, Judge Philip St.John-Stevens
described the case as "unusual".
Leading defence counsel John Benson QC said the self-employed
electrician and IT consultant did not know that when he "expressed
fantasy and transmitted them", he would end up in the dock.
Smith, who lives with his mum, was released on bail. Under the
Goodyear direction he was told the likely sentence would be a
suspended jail term or community order.
The case could now open the doors for police forces across the
country to charge suspected offenders for online conversations.
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