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.
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.
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’.
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.