HMA v Barry Sorrel 2020

Mr Sorrel has successfully appealed against the Sheriff’s decision to place him on the sex offenders register. The appellant pled guilty an offence under section 2(1) of the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Act 2016. This is commonly referred to as a revenge porn offence as he posted an intimate picture of his ex-partner on social media.

After the appellant pled guilty the sheriff made the decision to place him on the sexual offender’s register. The appellant received a custodial sentence of 4 months reduced from 6 months as a result his plea. However, the appellant appealed this decision to the Sheriff Appeal Court and was successful. The appellant argued there was no significant sexual element of the offence. The appeal Court concluded there was “no underlying sexual disorder or deviance” from his actions and the public did not need to be protected by him being placed on the register.

The appeal therefore succeeded. Sheriff Principal Stephen stated in concluding the appeal: “Simply because the offence involves a contravention of legislation entitled the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Act 2016 does not necessarily mean that the true nature of the offending is sexual. A contravention of section 2 of the 2016 Act does not necessarily equate with a sexual purpose. Rather, the circumstances of this case indicate that the appellant’s conduct was a determination to cause significant upset, embarrassment and humiliation.”