Woman fined after identifying victim of child sex abuser on Facebook

Bennell was remanded in custody until March.
Bennell was remanded in custody until March.

A woman “outed” the female victim of a sex predator by putting a picture of her and comments about her on the Facebook.

Christina Brooks was a close friend of the man convicted of sex offences on a young teenager and when he was branded a child sex abuser in the Gazette decided to take revenge on his accuser.

The victim’s identity is protected by law but Brooks posted her name on Facebook together with a picture of the victim, a court heard.

Brooks of Walmsley Street, Fleetwood, pleaded guilty to an offence under the Sexual Offences Amendment Act 1992.

She was charged with an offence that between August 16 and 19 last year she published comments and a still photograph on the Gazette Facebook page which led members of the public to identify a victim of rape and sex offences. The victim was aged between 13 and 15 at the time of those offences, she is now an adult.

A judge heard how it had taken the permission of the Attorney General to bring the unusual charge against Brooks. Three other people were investigated one of whom received an official police caution for their online comments.

Prosecutor Adrian Hollamby told Blackpool Magistrates Court that last year Robert Hanson had been convicted of sex offences against an underage victim.

Hanson, 33, was said to have groomed the girl for sex and they had a child together during their five year relationship.

Hanson was cfound guilty by a jury of four sex offences and was bailed by a judge at Preston Crown Court pending sentence

One the day he was due to be sentenced he committed suicide and police found his body found at a house on Bowness Avenue, Thornton, on August 15 last year.

The prosecutor said: “The Blackpool Gazette ran a story about his death under the headline child sex abuser found dead.The paper did not identify his victim.”

Brooks’ posting was seen by the victim who reported it to the police.

“During interview Brooks admitted what she had done and said she regarded Hanson as being like a brother to her,” said Mr Hollamby. “She was angry and said she did not realise the victim’s name was protected.”

Patrick Nelligan,defending, said: “What she did was in the heat of the moment and now understands the implications of what she did.”

“She was unhappy with the headline – child sex abuser.”

Sentencing the mother-of-one District Judge Jeff Brailsford told her: “At time when emotions were running high you decided to right what you saw to be a wrong but by doing created another wrong

“By doing so you exposed this lady’s picture making it easy for her to be indentified which is illegal.

“This is only punishable by a fine.”

“Do not even think about doing this sort of thing again.”

Brooks was fined £250 and was ordered to pay £35 victims’ surcharge and £85 court costs.