Amy Hickson – Suspended Sentence for Indecent Images

Amy Hickson – Suspended Sentence for Indecent Images

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Introduction 

A few years ago when she was 17, acting on intelligence received as they say, police raided the home of Amy Hickson and seized her computer. On it they found over 600 illegal images, mostly child pornography, with some extreme images of animals.

On 6th March 2015 Ms Hickson, now aged 20, was given a 12 month suspended sentence (12 months youth detention, suspended for 2 years) with a condition of undertaking 200 hours unpaid work. She will also have to sign the Sex Register for the next 10 years.

 

Sentence

We don’t have full details, but it is clear that there were some images at Category A (see the table at page 77 Sexual Offences Guidelines) – penetrative sexual activity. There was also an element of sophistication as the files were hidden in the computer. The Judge said “There are babies in these images, as well as two-year-olds, three-year-olds… This does make it very serious indeed

There will be some credit for the plea of guilty, but probably around 10% as it was just before her trial was about to start. The Judge noted that it seems that Ms Hickson was still in denial in relation to the offending.

To my mind the most significant point is that she was aged 17 when the offences were committed. Youths are generally treated a lot more leniently than adults, so this would lead to a lower sentence.

On the guidelines, the starting point for this offending would be 1 year in prison, with a range from 6 months to 3 years. This indicates that the Judge took a slightly higher starting point (probably 14 months, similar to the starting point for Vincent Tabak).

On the face of it, given that she was a youth at the time, the sentence is longer than I would have expected (I would have thought 6 months or less would have been right). Given that Ms Hickson still has her liberty, it is unlikely that she will appeal however.

It is very rare for woman (and even rarer for girls as Ms Hickson was) to commit these sorts of offences, and a suspended sentence seems the proper way of dealing with this.

 

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Dan is a barrister at 2 Dr. Johnson’s Buildings practising in crime.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Firstly a question about the latest posts. Why do they appear to be incomplete – as though large chunks have been omitted from them or the posters were in such frenzied hurry that they had no time to write proper English?

    And secondly, is it really true that there are lawyers who still think convicted sex offenders have to sign the sex offenders’ register? It’s bad enough that the media like to keep plugging this fiction, but that’s to be expected given their mandate to do everything possible to drain the last bit of dignity from the convicted person. But lawyers?

    In case the error is genuine, let me just remind you (a) that there is no legal obligation to sign anything, because a signature denotes the consent of the person signing, and you can’t force a person to give consent; and (b) it is irrelevant whether the sex offender signs – he or she is automatically on the register for a period linked to the sentence passed. The judge has no discretion as to whether a person goes on it and therefore cannot “order” anyone to “sign” it.

    Of course corrupt judges do exercise control over how long is spent on the register by adjusting the sentence upwards. Thus if a judge wants you on it for life he makes sure your sentence is 30 months where he might otherwise have passed a lesser sentence. And since the corrupt decisions in Wiles and Minter the non-custodial period on licence is counted as “imprisonment”.

    • On the first point, I’m not sure – I have that sometimes. Have you tried clearing the cache.

      On the second, we do know how the Sex Offenders Register works, ‘signing the Sex Offenders Register’ is just a useful shorthand.

      I am not sure why you see the Wiles & Minter judgment as ‘corrupt’? I can see arguments why it was not right, but that’s not the same thing (for what it’s worth, I agree with it though). I’m not aware of any cases where the Judge has increased a sentence to trigger a longer notification period (although there are cases where a sentence has been reduced to achieve the opposite).

  2. “It is very rare for woman (and even rarer for girls as Ms Hickson was) to commit these sorts of offences, and a suspended sentence seems the proper way of dealing with this.”

    It is probably rare for anybody, male or female, to commit these sorts of offences, but what is the source of your information (if this is the implication) that most such offenders are male, please?

    • Yes, very rare for anyone to commit these offences. I’m sure you can google the stats, but the overwhelming majority of all criminals and alleged criminals are male, so I doubt that this would be any different.

  3. Interesting point from The Mail coverage here – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2983306/Woman-20-spared-prison-despite-caught-600-indecent-images-babies-children-animals.html:

    Dawn Hyland, prosecuting, said that the indecent images of children included 219 of category A seriousness, 185 at category B and 199 at category C. The prohibited images included 523 cartoon images portraying child abuse, Ms Hyland said.

    So all but 80 images are cartoons, manga perhaps? We don’t have a breakdown of these between child abuse images and animal grot. I don’t really want to try and defend Hickson but there’s actually a chance she just had a bunch of sick cartoons on her computer (as well as indecent animal images) rather than images of actual children being abused.

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