Balancing Social Media ‘Bile’ Advice For Removing Indecent Duo Name

A name suppression appeal for two people who indecently assaulted a friend, divided appeals judges.  (File photo)


A name suppression appeal for two people who indecently assaulted a friend, divided appeals judges. (File photo)

Two people whose convictions were overturned for indecency on a drunk friend have now had their names removed permanently.

The duo were eventually acquitted without a conviction on appeal to the High Court, but had to take one more step in the Court of Appeal to ultimately have their names removed.

Their victim wanted them named as part of his campaign for sexually abused men.

Lawyers for the duo said the victim’s social media posts about what happened were inaccurate. Both defendants had already endured extreme hardship and were at greater risk if their names were released again, lawyers said.

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In its decision issued Thursday, two judges of the Court of Appeal gave their agreement.

Advertising in traditional news media would be reasonably balanced, but not social media, and the victim was responsible for much of the advertising to date, the judges said.

But the third judge questioned whether allowing “social media bile” to tip the scales in favor of deletion meant that a vocal minority was crushing the public’s legitimate interest in knowing the identities of the people. accused.

The duo’s names were released when they appeared in district court and before they requested deletion. Any hardship had already occurred and the removal was now artificial, he said.

Things and other media had argued that there was a genuine public interest in ensuring an accurate public record as a counterpoint to unfair and inaccurate social media comments.


On The Detail podcast, we chat with legal experts about who gets this treatment in court – and why. (Video first published on September 20, 2021)

However, the court said there was no reason to believe social media users would look at the public record to verify what they had been told.

The pair had already served their four-week sentence in community detention and $ 1,000 in reparations by the time their convictions were overturned. They pleaded guilty.

“He [the victim] believes the justice system has not punished them enough, ”said Judge Forrie Miller and Judge Murray Gilbert.

Judge Downs would not have deleted the names, but the views of the other two judges prevailed.  (File photo)

David White / Tips

Judge Downs would not have deleted the names, but the views of the other two judges prevailed. (File photo)

“They say that the dump [without conviction] establishes that he is wrong about it, and furthermore that he is likely to repeat false claims about what they did to him. “

Both judges said social media raised issues the courts had yet to resolve.

The man and woman, both in their twenties, originally faced more serious charges, but were reduced to indecent assault for the woman and indecent assault for the man. The Court of Appeal said it was a mistake not to change the summary of facts when the charges were reduced.

The victim, also in her 20s, had been intoxicated and passed out in a car when the woman pulled down her pants and underwear, and appeared to be trying to insert an object into her body, said court of Appeal.

The incident was recorded and a copy was shared with him but with no one else, the court said.

The outcome of the removal appeal was likely to exacerbate the victim’s view that she was abandoned by the courts, the judges acknowledged.

The court stayed an order made at the victim’s request so that she could be identified, going beyond the usual rule that victims of sexual assault are anonymous. The court said his identification was likely to lead to the identification of the two whose names were now removed.

The removal of the victim’s name will probably be considered again later.

The third judge who heard the appeal, Judge Mathew Downs, reportedly dismissed the duo’s appeal.

The description of the incident was unequivocal that an attempt had been made to penetrate the victim, and changing the charges to something less serious recognized the unusual circumstances, he said.

“I consider that all advertising, including on social networks, will quickly explode …”

“For some reason people are saying scandalous things on social media. Seemingly harmless messages are quickly filled with abuse – or worse. But, everyone knows it. It follows that the system has a measure of self-correction, ”said the judge.

The duo made the decision to fire them without conviction in response to social media attention or any other potential harm in their lives, he said.

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