HMA V Stephen Bell 2018

Mr Bell was given an extended sentence for having an “uncontrollable obsession” with child pornography but he has successfully appealed against the sentence imposed.

The appellant was convicted of possessing thousands of still and moving images. At the Sheriff court it was heard that Mr Bell would not even do simple tasks like go to the bathroom due to his obsession. He was sentenced to 52 months for possessing child pornography. However, the Appeal Court ruled that the statutory test for imposing an extension period had not been met.

He was described by the judge’s as being “in the grip of an uncontrollable obsession with child pornography”. A sexual offences prevention order of indefinite length had also been imposed, which provided as well as the custodial sentence and he was also subject to the notification requirements for an indefinite period.

With this in mind it was decided that the sentence was excessive and unnecessary. Lady Paton stated at the appeal: “In these particular circumstances, we have reached the view that the test set out in section 210A of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 has not been met and that accordingly an extended sentence was unnecessary.” The conviction was therefore quashed and a lesser sentence imposed.