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Woman avoids jail following lesbian revenge porn scandal

Paige Mitchell
Paige Mitchell

A woman who posted explicit images of her girlfriend "to hurt and humiliate" her victim after an argument has walked free from court.

Paige Mitchell, 24, today became the first woman to be sentenced for revenge porn in the UK when she was handed a six-week suspended jail term at Stevenage Magistrates' Court.

Mitchell, from Shephall Way in Stevenage, said she posted the four sexually explicit images of her girlfriend on her own Facebook page following the argument - prompted when Mitchell was accused by the victim of looking at other women.

Sentencing her, chairman of the bench Bette Hindmarsh said: "Posting the photos on the internet was a highly vindictive invasion of privacy.

"It was done with the intention of humiliating and hurting your victim."

Mitchell pleaded guilty to one count of assault by beating, and one of disclosing private sexual photographs and films with intent to cause distress.

The latter has only been a criminal offence since the new revenge porn laws were introduced in April. So far, around a dozen men have been convicted under the legislation in England.

Mitchell said the images were sent by her partner during their relationship, which had begun 14 months before the fight.

She posted four of them on Facebook after the argument, but removed them when her mother told her it was against the law, the court heard. The images had been online for half an hour.

Mitchell's counsel, Tariq Iqbal, said his client and the victim later reconciled their differences and continued to be in a relationship.

However, Mitchell appeared to call time on the romance from the dock by inviting the court to issue her with a restraining order that would force them to split for good.

In a witness statement, the victim - whose one-year-old child was sleeping during the argument at Mitchell's home on May 12 -said the incident "made me feel embarrassed, embarrassed to walk down the street".

She said: "People who I didn't want to see my body have seen me (naked). I don't want to feel like that."

Mitchell was handed a six-week sentence for revenge porn, and a two-week sentence for common assault, to run concurrently. They were suspended for 18 months.

She was also made to pay £345 in costs.

Mr Iqbal said his client needed help with her anger management, and that the Facebook post was an indication of her naivety.

He said: "It was a silly thing to do, but I think it was in the heat of the moment. Emotions can be dangerous some times."

Mitchell made no comment as she ran from the court building at the end of the sentence hearing, wearing a hood over her face, flanked by two friends.

In a statement, Joanna Coleman for the Crown Prosecution Service said: "These vengeful crimes are predominantly thought of as being carried out by men.

"This sentencing will highlight that anyone can be guilty of this offence and regardless of the defendant's gender, once reported, it will be taken seriously.

"Crimes where an intimate image of an individual is shared without their permission in such a public forum is invasive, humiliating and distressing for the victim and leaves them feeling violated.

"It can have a huge impact on the victim and I am pleased that more people are having the confidence to come forward and report these crimes."