A BARNSLEY woman has been sentenced after admitting to illegally identifying alleged sex abuse victims on social media.
Ann Marie Evans, of Straight Lane, pleaded guilty to two offences under the Malicious Communications Act and two under the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act at Sheffield Magistrates’ Court last month.
The offences investigated by officers from the National Crime Agency’s Operation Stovewood related to a series of Facebook posts in which the 27-year-old identified two women - who had been granted anonymity in the case - and a third who she wrongly thought was involved.
At the time of the offences, Evans was said to have been upset by the names of her brothers being in the news after they were charged by the Crown Prosecution Service. Magistrates imposed a six-week prison sentence, which was suspended for 12 months. They also ordered Evans to do 60 hours of unpaid work and pay £100 compensation to each woman at a hearing on Monday.
Senior investigating officer Philip Marshall, from the National Crime Agency, warned victims’ right to anonymity is bound by law. He said: “Anyone who seeks to intimidate victims or undermine our investigations in this way should know that we will take action against them. “I hope this continued activity sends out a message to victims that we are taking allegations seriously.“We encourage all victims to come forward and give their accounts in the knowledge they will be listened to and they will supported throughout.”
Liz Fell, specialist prosecutor for the CPS, added:“By publishing these names Ann Marie Evans identified those who have a right to lifelong anonymity and caused them considerable distress. “We want to reassure victims that where there is sufficient evidence, we will prosecute those who breach the automatic legal right to anonymity.”