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An arrest – and remand time – for being suspected of possessing extreme porn may act as wake-up call for those who thought that the new law on extreme porn would just quietly fade away.

Nathan Porter, of Jones Street, Pendleton, has been charged with seven counts of possession of extreme pornographic images and appeared for a bail hearing at Salford Magistrates Court on Wednesday 26 August 2009.

This followed a police search of his house two days earlier, when various items, including a computer, were seized. According to a spokesman for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), seven DVDs were seized containing pornography that featured content of a bestial nature.

This is certainly not the first case in which individuals have been charged under the new law and a number of cases have been reported since the legislation went live in January this year.

So far, porn involving animals has featured on a fairly regular basis. The first ever conviction under this law appears to have been of a man charged on 14 counts of possessing "images involving women and animals" on 10 February.

This may be something of a surprise for both advocates and opponents of the law. During parliamentary debate, the focus was primarily on the question of extreme porn involving adults, and where the lines should be drawn on that.

It is, however, only the second confirmed case in which an individual has been prosecuted solely on grounds of possession – and as far as we are aware, it is the first in which an individual has spent time on remand.

Otherwise, cases have tended to be "extreme porn-plus". Colin Blanchard from Littleborough, near Rochdale was charged with possession of extreme porn plus indecent images of children. Alan Moore, of Windslow Drive, Carrickfergus, was charged with extreme porn possession plus indecent touching of a minor.

The fact that an unconvicted individual can spend time in prison before a court has considered the nature of the material for which they have been arrested could well re-ignite debate on the issue. Individuals may be remanded in custody on a number of grounds – usually where there is fear of them absconding, or where they might interfere with an ongoing investigation. According to the CPS and police, opposition to bail in this case was the latter: investigations are still ongoing for other serious matters.

Mr Porter is likely to remain in custody until at least 7 October, when the case is sent to Crown Court for directions: that is, a judge will decide how it is to be tried.

Possession of extreme porn is what is known as an "each way" offence, as it can be tried by magistrates or before a judge. The fact that this case is being sent to Crown Court would certainly imply that the CPS consider this to be a serious offence. ®

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