THE EDITOR of the Ceredigion Herald was today (May 12) found guilty of breaching the Sexual Offences Amendment Act (1992) after a judge ruled that a story published last year ‘includes matters likely to lead members of the public to identify [the complainant] as the person against whom the offence is alleged to have been committed’.
Thomas Hutton Sinclair, 37, had pleaded not guilty to the offence, which was tried at Llanelli Magistrates’ Court last month.
A skeleton argument was put forward by his legal representative, Matthew Paul, which attempted to demonstrate that the information put forward in the article was not sufficient to lead to members of the public identifying the complainant.
However, after reserving judgement, District Judge David Parsons found that the relevant information provided in the article was sufficient to provide a ‘real risk’ of identification.
“The purpose of S1 (2) of the Act is to preserve the dignity and privacy of victims of sexual offences,” he said. “Without this provision victims may well not report crimes for fear of publication of their identity. In my judgement likely in this case includes probable or might well happen. However on the facts of this case I am satisfied that there was a real risk, a real danger, a real chance that members of the public would identify the victim.”
The judgement stated that the CPS did not contend that any identification of the complainant had taken place as a result of the article’s publication.
Speaking in mitigation, Mr Paul noted that in a similar case in 2013, Trinity Mirror had been fined £1,200. He added that The Herald was an independent paper, from which Sinclair did not draw a salary.
“It is regretted by Thomas Sinclair that it ‘slipped through the net’ but there was no considered decision to print,” he added.
Mr Paul noted that this offence pre-dated another matter which came before court last year, and that staff had received training before this matter came to court.
He also added that the ‘gleeful’ reporting of the Ceredigion Herald’s circulation figures as of last June by rival titles had adversely affected advertising revenue, pointing out that the current weekly sales were in the region of 3,300.
Sinclair was fined £1,500, and ordered to pay compensation of £1,500, costs of £500 and a surcharge of £150.
Speaking after the verdict, he said: “District Judge Parsons’ decision was badly wrong. The District Judge reached factual conclusions that were not reasonably available to him, and made errors of law.
“I maintain that there was no likelihood of the information in the report leading members of the public to identify the complainant. I will be appealing against both the conviction and sentence, and fully expect that the District Judge’s decision will be overturned by the higher Courts.”
Man denies £7,000 burglary
A MAN from West Sussex has today denied carrying out a £7,000 burglary in Lampeter.
Kurtis Poat, aged 23, appeared at Swansea Crown Court for a plea and trial preparation hearing before Judge Paul Thomas.
Poat, of Osborne Crescent, Chichester, denied breaking into a house in Nantyglyn, Cwmann, in May, 2017, and stealing a tin containing £7,000 in cash.
Poat faces a two day trial scheduled to begin on April 11 and was granted bail until then.
Campaigners urge air gun licensing following cat shootings
CATS PROTECTION is urging the UK’s cat lovers to join a call on the Westminster government to introduce air gun licensing in Wales and England, following in the footsteps of Scotland and Northern Ireland where it is illegal to own air weapons without licence.
The government is currently holding a public consultation into air weapon regulation, including licensing, which closes on February 6, making this the ideal time for cat lovers to make their voices heard by sending an e-mail to the Home Office.
To take part people should visit www.cats.org.uk/airgunsconsult
Victims of air gun shootings include Jalapeno, a black-and-white cat from Bridgend who was shot in the eye, and Chaos, a black-and-white cat from South Wales who was shot between her eyes, shattering the bones in her nose.
Luckily both Jalapeno and Chaos survived their injuries after receiving emergency veterinary care.
However, in March 2017, a cat from Barry was fatally shot, as was a cat from Llanell in August 2017.
“Shocking air gun attacks like the ones on Jalapeno and Chaos are by no means rare,” explains Jacqui Cuff, Cats Protection’s Head of Advocacy & Government Relations.
“Our monitoring of UK press reports shows that three cats are killed or injured by an air gun each week and this is likely to be an underestimate because most attacks are never witnessed or reported. Worse still, over 90% of these shootings take place in Wales and England where it is legal for anyone over 18 to purchase an air gun and ammunition without the need for a licence.
“These attacks cause immense pain and suffering to cats as well as anguish for their owners and fear in their local communities for the safety of people and pets.”
Cats Protection believes that if licensing were introduced, it would be easier to track down culprits who use these weapons to inflict harm on cats.
The charity wants to ensure that cats in Wales and England are fully protected. Those who have a legitimate reason to purchase, possess and use an air gun will be able to retain ownership and would simply need to apply for a licence.
Jacqui added: “Last year over 90,000 people signed an online and paper Cats Protection petition calling for the licensing of air guns in Wales and England, showing the depth of public feeling on the issue. Our hope is that as many people as possible email the government in support of air gun licensing so that we can make the whole of the UK a safer place for cats, animals and human beings.”
Cats Protection is the UK’s leading feline welfare charity and helps around 190,000 cats each year through a national network of over 250 volunteer-run branches and 34 centres.
Police crack down on drink and drug driving
NEARLY 100 people were arrested by Dyfed-Powys Police for drink and drug driving in December, as a result of the All Wales Christmas Anti Drink and Drug Drive Campaign.
The month-long operation against driving under the influence ran from Friday, December 1, and police forces across the country used intelligence-led tactics and local knowledge of hotspots to detect people driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol over the festive period.
98 people were arrested by Dyfed-Powys Police.
Supt. Huw Meredith, Specialist Operations, said: “We adopt a proactive, targeted and intelligence-led approach to drink and drug driving, using specialist Roads Policing resources and response officers.
“The number of arrests indicates that sadly some are prepared to risk the lives of others and themselves by driving under the influence of drink or drugs.
“Our message is the same all year round – don’t drink/take drugs and drive.”
In 2017 Dyfed-Powys Police arrested 452 people for drink and drug driving.
Operation Snap also launched in December, allowing members of the public throughout Wales to submit footage and images showing traffic offences being committed – from driving dangerously or carelessly to contravening solid white lines, using a mobile phone while driving or ignoring traffic lights.
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