HMA v Robert Redpath 2019

Mr Redpath, who was found guilty of being in possession of indecent images of children, has had his appeal against conviction refused. The computer expert claimed he did not have any knowledge of such photographs being on computers he was in possession of throughout the trial. The appeal was on the basis that the Sheriff should have upheld a no case to answer submission by the defence and there was a misdirection in the charge.

However, the Sheriff ruled the crown only has to prove the appellant was in possession of storage devices that contained such images – which they had done. The appellant claimed that he had an interest in repairing electronics and the devices were not originally his. He alleged that he often looked in lots of different places for old computer parts but did not confirm the contents of all of them. The sheriff, before deliberations, directed the jury that “possession” required “knowledge and control”. The appeal was refused at the High Court.

It was concluded there was “sufficient evidence” to infer knowledge and therefore the jury were entitled to come to the decision they had done and there was no misdirection. Lord Justice General stated: “The offence under section 52A of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 is one of a person having indecent photographs of children ‘in his possession’. Photographs include ‘data stored on a computer disc … which is capable of conversion into a photograph’. That being so, it is sufficient for the Crown to prove that the appellant was in possession of data stored on computer discs which could produce photographs of some kind. There is no need for the Crown to prove that the appellant had knowledge of the nature of the images to which the data would convert.” The appeal was therefore refused.