The Sheriff Appeal Court rejected an appeal from a man who was given a community payback order after threatening to share intimate images of his ex-partner with her children. The appellants claim that the ‘revenge porn’, as it was coined, was not abusive and was dismissed by the court.

Sheriff Principal Duncan Murray and Appeal Sheriff Sean Murphy QC heard appellant James Shanks plead guilty to a charge of threatening to reveal a number of compromising photographs of his ex-partner. This is in contravention of section 2 of the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Act 2016.

Shanks was sentenced to a community payback order with an offender supervision requirement for one year. He was also sentenced to 150 hours’ unpaid work, which was reduced to 135 hours.

However, Shanks argues that his sentence was ‘excessive’. The Sheriff considered many different factors, including that an individual who has trusted a significant other is entitled to a reasonable expectation that the court will deal with the actions of the appellant severely, as they deliberately intend to cause distress.

The court was told that the appellant made the threat while intoxicated, although it clearly had a significant effect upon the complainer. Presenting the opinion of the court, Sheriff Principal Murray stated the actions of Shanks were an unwelcome threat to the complainers’ children, and parliament has specifically legislated for such an offence. The court agreed that the punishment given was warranted for the actions of the appellant.

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