HMA v IP [2017] HCJAC 56

A decision to sustain a plea in bar of trial based upon the ‘entrapment’ by the police of a Scottish teacher accused of attempting to engage in sexual activity with a child was upheld on appeal. The accused was charged at Falkirk Sheriff Court for engaging in online conversations with “other persons” and arranging to meet these persons “for the purpose of gaining access to a 14-year-old girl” and  “for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity with a child”.


This charge was a result of an undercover operation by the police through an undercover police officer, ‘Lisa.’ During an online conversation ‘Lisa’, who the respondent developed an intimate friendship with; she asked the respondent what he was “into”. He referred to a number of sexual practices, but none referred to children. There was only a short conversation about sexual activity between the respondent and ‘Lisa’s daughter’, in which the respondent clearly stated that he had never before been involved with underage children. This conversation was instigated by ‘Lisa’ and the respondent did not express a wish to meet the child directly.

The plea in bar of trial was upheld on appeal. Citing the well-known case of Jones v HM Advocate 2010, the appellant judges stated that an ‘unfair trick’ was in fact played on the accused by the police officers. Lord Justice General stated that it was significant that there was no evidence that the respondent had ever expressed any interest in sexual activity with children in the chat logs.