Posting rape victim’s name results in fines

Revealing the name of a rape victim on social networking sites has landed nine people in trouble with the law. Each has been ordered to pay the victim £624.

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The offences follow the five year jail sentence handed out at Caernarfon Crown Court in April to footballer Ched Evans, who had been found guilty of raping the 19 year old woman. The former Sheffield United and Wales striker is due to appeal against the rape conviction at the Court of Appeal on Tuesday. Evans admitted having sex with her, but she told the jury that she had no memory of the incident – and the prosecution argued that she was too drunk to consent. The case attracted substantial interest nationally and internationally, with about 6,000 messages on Twitter.

Seven men and three women from Sheffield and North Wales, aged between 18 and 27, were charged with revealing the victim's identity and appeared at Prestatyn Magistrates' Court. One of the women denied the charge and was bailed until 21 January.The law grants victims and alleged victims of rape lifelong anonymity.

The nine who admitted the offence were: Evans's cousin Gemma Thomas from Rhyl; the footballer's friend Craig McDonald, 26, from Prestatyn; biology school teacher Holly Price, 25, from Prestatyn; Michael Ashton, 21, from Llanddulas; Benjamin Davies, 27, from Rhyl; David Cardwell, 25, from Sheffield; Paul Devine, 26, from Sheffield; Dominic Green, 23, from Rhyl; and Shaun Littler, 22, from Sheffield. Alexandra Hewitt, 24, from Broughton, denied the charge.

All were charged with publishing material likely lead members of the public to identify the complainant in a rape case, contrary to the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 1992. The posts accused the victim of "crying rape" and "money-grabbing". They all claimed to be unaware that their actions constituted a criminal offence.

BBC News Legal Correspondent Clive Coleman commented: "One thing is for sure. In criminal cases, you hit the keys of your phone or PC at your peril."

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