BREAKING: Eastbourne man banned from using social media

OLIVER WHITING
OLIVER WHITING

An Eastbourne man who posted innocuous images of his female friends on porn sites and encouraged other men to abuse them has been banned from using social media for a minimum of two years.

Oliver Whiting also narrowly escaped a jail sentence when he appeared before a district judge at Hastings this morning (Tuesday).

Police officers escorted Whiting in and out of the court house and the case attracted attention from the national media after an initial police investigation saw Whiting given just a caution.

Whiting, 37, of Langdale Close, had previously admitted posting several photos of his friends and offensive messages on American porn sites during 2015 and 2016 and all contrary to the Communications Act 2003.

District Judge Teresa Szagun said this morning her sentencing powers were restricted by law and imposed a six month sentence suspended for two years, banned Whiting from using social media and also ordered him to complete 200 hours of unpaid work.

Restraining orders were also put in place so Whiting cannot contact his victims.

Prosecutor Elizabeth Green told the court Whiting had been originally cautioned for similar offences but after the publicity of the case, other women came forward after discovering he had posted photos of them on the porn sites and encouraged men to abuse them.

One of the photos he posted was of a friend with her two-year-old daughter and another was of a 16-year-old girl who was known to him in her school uniform.

Ms Green said that the images of the women Whiting had posted and the comments were still on the websites.

His victims, said Ms Green, had been left distressed, fearful and anxious by the fact their innocent pictures had been uploaded by Whiting and “unspeakable vile and sexual slurs” had been posted by him and other men.

Ms Green said the messages posted by Whiting included encouraging other men to rape the women in the photo and abuse them.

Mr Whiting’s solicitor Noelle Magennis said her client was full of remorse for his actions and he felt disgusted and appalled.

He was, she said, going through a difficult time in his life when he was drinking too much and had suffered a breakdown.

“He extends his heartfelt apologies,” said Miss Maginnes. “It was a moment of madness in a bad period of his life. He has no idea why he died it.”

Miss Maginnes said Whiting had contemplated suicide, had been disowned by his friends and barely left his house.

But District Judge Szagun said that what Whiting had done with innocuous photos of the women “defied belief” and the words he used were “evil, aggressive sexual fantasies”.

He had, said the judge, used the photos to cause disgust and utter humiliation.

“This violation and degradation of women demands to be punished,” said the judge, who also ordered Whiting to pay for the images to be taken down with supervision from the police.

She also commended Whitings victims, some of whom were in court this morning.

Their victim impact statements were, she said, powerful and she hoped would encourage other women to speak up about injustices and against the degradation of women.

After the court hearing his victims said they were disappointed he had not received an immediate prison sentence.

The women also turned down any compensation from Whiting.