Vincent Tabak, who was sentenced last Friday to at least 20 years in prison for the murder of Joanna Yeates, was obsessed with
violent pornography on the internet. Rightly or wrongly, the trial judge had ruled that the jury should not be told about his extreme predilections.
But there can be little doubt that the images which Tabak found online literally corrupted his imagination, and influenced his behaviour. In the words of the prosecution, he moved from observer to participator as a result of his relentless
trawling of hard-core sites.
Offsite: Daily Mail Editorial: In Joanna's name, close these vile sites
We already have a law that bans possession of the most extreme kinds of pornography yet it has resulted in only a handful of
But as Stephen Glover argues powerfully on this page, defeatism on this issue is not an option. Other countries police the internet. With determination, so can Britain.
Opponents of censorship argue that we should not interfere with the free viewing choices of grown-ups. But this freedom comes at too high a price if it means that potentially violent individuals such as Vincent Tabak become violent in reality.
Offsite: Inciting hatred of men by claiming they are all easily led to violence
There is, whatever the libertarians and porn apologists say, a direct link between violence against women and pornography.
I am not advocating the state censorship of pornography, ... [BUT] ...just that we bring in legislation akin to that which criminalises racial hatred. We should introduce a crime of incitement to sexual hatred in order to sanction
those who produce and consume images of females being tortured and violated because of their gender.
Tabak is an extreme example of how pornography can feed sadistic fantasy to the point of where it is no longer enough to be a passive viewer.
Liz Longhurst, the woman who fought for a ban on violent online pornography after her daughter's murder, has said she
is disappointed it has not been more effective.
She said: I was glad that the law had been passed in 2009 but I did not feel it was necessarily going to have a tremendously marvellous effect.
I was rather surprised that really very few cases have been brought. There have been lots of cases of [connected with] child pornography but not many with adult pornography.
Longhurst said she was very sad to discover the man who murdered landscape architect Jo Yeates had viewed violent pornography on the internet.
[I wonder if Liz Longhurst ever sheds a tear for the innocent people persecuted by the law over a jokey bad taste video clip, or else for those people who would never dream of harming anyone, but who's tastes in porn would have been better left
Lawyer argues that porn use should always be revealed in court
It sounds like Nick Freeman is arguing to use the fear of porn use being revealed to courts (and the fear of wrongful conviction due to prejudicial evidence) as a general morality deterrent to viewing porn.
Ever been tempted to look at porn on the internet? After all, pornography is viewed
by 35.9 % of UK internet users.
It's unlikely many of these are more than casual sauce-surfers, idling away a few moments of spare time over their lunchtime pot noodle. Certainly - or rather, hopefully - very few, fuelled by a cyber-fix, would develop a
thirst for violence or even murder. Unfortunately, it did in the case of Vincent Tabak. And yet his predilection for hard-core and violent pornography - including images of women being held by the neck saying choke me - was kept from the
jury in the Jo Yeates murder case.
An outrage since in my mind this was a scorching piece of evidence which directly played to the mindset of the accused. Without it, the Crown just about limped home with a conviction after the jury deliberated for two days
before returning a 10 - 2 majority. A very close call for the Crown.
It's time to smash this disgraceful contradiction by carving the legal position in statute.
In my view, anyone watching internet porn should know that if they subsequently become a defendant or witness in criminal proceedings, their cyber spectating could be open to questioning in court, if relevant to the charge.
Every day minds are polluted by the toxic trash being pedalled on the web. Yet the law seems to protect a violent killer tanked up on gruesome internet footage whilst exposing an innocent witness for his lamentable sexual interest.
At the moment a judge has a discretion to make this call. It's not enough. If he errs on the side of caution, suppresses evidence arbitrarily and gets it wrong, a vicious murderer could walk free. The scales of justice
between the probative and the prejudicial need to be rebalanced. The law needs to stand as a serious deterrent.
There are 755 million porn-heavy pages on the web, generating £ 60billion a year in filth-soaked revenue. And nearly 36% of the population are looking at it. One of them could be you. Would
you take a peek if you knew your secret wasn't safe?