Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/08/25/pain_olympics/

How extreme is your pr0n? Depends on your lawyer

Beware bluetooth bearing gifs

By Jane Fae Ozimek

Posted in Law, 25th August 2010 11:12 GMT

Analysis In matters of extreme porn, the message of recent cases seems to be that whether you get off increasingly depends on how familiar your legal team are with a law still in its courtroom infancy.

In Mold, Mr Andrew Robert Holland, of Coedpoeth, Wrexham, Clwyd, was originally charged on two counts of possessing extreme porn. The first charge, that he had images of "tiger porn" involving a woman and a tiger, were thrown out in January when police suddenly discovered the volume switch on their PC – and the prosecution withdrew the charge. The second case followed a more tortuous route, with Holland first advised to plead guilty by a local barrister.

Then, following advice from lawyers more expert in this new law, he "vacated his plea", and turned up in court a couple of weeks ago ready to defend himself. At this point, the CPS decided to offer no evidence and again the case was dismissed. We have asked Mold police if it is possible to see copies of the second clip, in order to advise readers on what is now considered non-pornographic. So far we have received no response.

Holland’s defence was always that the clip was not solicited, had been sent to him by friends as a joke, and was disgusting - but, as far as he was concerned, in no way sexual. We understand, from sources close to the case, that it may have involved some form of male genital mutilation.

According to experts, it appears likely that the clip may have been an extreme variant of that genre now typified by more mainstream movies such as Jackass: intended to shock and disturb – but not actually pornographic.

Unfortunately, that may not be how the courts see it. On Friday, August 13, Ashley Thomas Johnstone, 20, of Lansdowne Grove, Wigston, Leicestershire, was sentenced to 32 weeks' detention, suspended for two years, and ordered to do 150 hours of unpaid work in respect of two charges: supplying cannabis, and possession of a clip described as extreme porn.

Victoria Rose, prosecuting, told Leicester Crown Court that the clip was of men mutilating themselves.

Mr Johnstone had received it by Bluetooth. In mitigation, Ronald Birkett told the court: "Someone sent it to him. He looked at the first 30 seconds and switched it off in shock and forgot to delete it."

Sound familiar?

This follows an almost carbon copy case from Sunderland in July, in which a man caught with a short video clip on his phone showing a man's genitals being mutilated was found guilty of possessing extreme porn. He had not solicited the clip: it had been sent to him as a joke.

But as far as the courts were concerned, even his defence had difficulty in understanding why he possessed the clip. According to Defence solicitor Geoff Pearson: "I can't imagine why you would want to watch this, unless you were the particular type of person that found some gratification in it.”

The judge too was unimpressed. Ordering the man to complete 200 hours of unpaid work, District Judge Roger Eley said: "There is no doubt that this was a revolting and perverted piece of video and there is no reasonable explanation for this being on your mobile for the time it was.

"If you had any previous convictions or you had distributed this piece of video, you would be going to prison."

So what is going on? One possibility is that these are different clips and the two successful prosecutions were indeed in respect of extreme porn. An alternative is a simple cultural mismatch.

One individual who knows this material well suggests that in fact the video is actually a viral clip called "BME Pain Olympics: Final Round". This event is one of the events that occasionally occurs at BME BBQs – events staged by Body Mod Ezine, put on to see who has the highest pain tolerance and stamina, though it is not clear whether the video is "authentic" or not.

Revolting? Probably. Pornographic? Probably not. However, the message coming through loud and clear from the UK legal system seems to be that such activity is well beyond the ken of most of the legal establishment – and if it involves genitals, it must be sexual.

Meanwhile, another possibly worrying case hits the headlines today of a Dorset dentist - David Hill from Pennington Close, West Moors - convicted on the sole charge of possessing extreme pornography depicting pain being inflicted.

Prosecutor Desmond Duffy told Bournemouth Crown Court: "He [Mr Hill] accepted that what he had downloaded was extreme in nature, acknowledging participants were likely to be experiencing severe pain and risking injury as a result."

Without sight of the material seized it is impossible to comment further. However, afficionadoes of this law will be aware that neither experiencing severe pain nor the risk of injury are specifically outlawed within the law. ®