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The Text Message Typo That Landed a Man In Jail 547

Posted by Soulskill
from the auto-correct-going-on-the-offensive dept.
Barence writes "A British man was jailed for 18 months for accidentally sending an explicit text message to his entire address book. 24-year-old swimming coach Craig Evans intended to send a text message to his girlfriend asking her for sex. Instead, the message was accidentally sent to his entire BlackBerry address book, including two girls, aged 13 and 14, from his swimming class. He was subsequently arrested and charged with 'causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity,' and – incredibly – jailed for 18 months at Birmingham Crown Court in July. Yesterday, an appeal's court freed Evans, although he wasn't cleared — the sentence was merely reduced to a nine-month suspended jail term."
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The Text Message Typo That Landed a Man In Jail

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  • by second_coming (2014346) on Friday September 28, 2012 @07:52AM (#41486837)
    that it must have been a jury made up of 12 Daily Mail readers.
  • by Arab (466938) on Friday September 28, 2012 @07:55AM (#41486861) Journal

    I can't even figure out how to send a message to all my Blackberry contacts...

    How does one make a mistake like that?

  • Project seX? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Razgorov Prikazka (1699498) on Friday September 28, 2012 @07:55AM (#41486867)
    Sounds a little like the ProjetX we had here in Holland. A girl accidentally asked the whole FB community to join her on her birthday-party. She forgot to mention that it was for her friends and family only.
    Thousands gathered in a small village (pop. 20.000), rioted, plundered stores, burned cars, damage ~ 1 million total.
    A quick search on "projectX Haren" should suffice for more info.

    On the guy... that is well inconvenient mate!
  • Hrm (Score:5, Informative)

    by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Friday September 28, 2012 @07:55AM (#41486869) Homepage
    Only source for this appears to be the Daily Mail, not a publication noted for its accurate reporting. How easy is it to accidentally send a text message to an entire contact list on Blackberries? I've never used a phone that made such a thing possible.
    • Re:Hrm (Score:5, Interesting)

      by hairyfish (1653411) on Friday September 28, 2012 @08:07AM (#41486961)
      My Bullshit detector went off as soon I read the summary. You can't send a text to all contacts with BB (just checked mine now). The only way to do this is to create a group, add all your contacts, then send a txt to the group. Hardly the sort of thing you would do accidently. Also the Daily Mail is one of those "President Kidnapped by Aliens!" publications. Why we keep getting Daily Mail stories on Slashdot is beyond me. Wake up Slashdot Editors.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        He's a swim coach. He probably frequently sent out mails for events and schedule changes to a large group of people.
        This group probably contained most of his contact list.

        And if he did it frequently, a smart device like a Blackberry (which I don't own, so I can only speculate) might well prioritise higher on autocomplete that group.

        At that point, all that would be required would be carelessness in the heat of the moment...

      • Re:Hrm (Score:5, Informative)

        by Vintermann (400722) on Friday September 28, 2012 @08:26AM (#41487151) Homepage

        It's much more likely that the Daily Mail made up some details (such as it being a Blackberry, or the guy being a swimming instructor, or the guy having a girlfriend etc.) than that they made up a case like this out of whole cloth and attached it to a picture of a real person.

    • by nten (709128) on Friday September 28, 2012 @08:07AM (#41486967)

      You can send a broadcast message to all contacts in a folder or to individual contacts. Recipients cannot reply to broadcast messages.

              On the Contact list screen, press the Menu key.
              Click Broadcast Message.
              Complete the Announcement field.
              If you have administrator permissions and want to send the broadcast message to all of the users on the server, select the System message check box. Click OK.
              Click Recipients.
              Click a folder.
              Perform one of the following actions:
                      To send the broadcast message to all of the contacts in the folder, select the Select All check box.
                      To send the broadcast message to individual contacts in the folder, select the check box beside the contacts.
              Click OK.
              Click OK.

      That seems hard to do by accident, but at least slightly possible.

    • Re:Hrm (Score:4, Interesting)

      by squiggleslash (241428) on Friday September 28, 2012 @08:07AM (#41486973) Homepage Journal

      I don't know, but at the same time, if the message didn't go out to a large number of people in his address book, however it happened, I assume we'd not be reading it. So the story may have that detail ("the entire address book") wrong without being wrong, per-se, about the guy's innocence.

      Not having a Blackberry, I can only assume you can easily set up groups of contacts. If girl friend's name is "Samantha", and group name is "Swim team", and they appear next to one another in the address book, then... maybe? Any BB owners here care to comment?

  • by Damouze (766305) on Friday September 28, 2012 @08:15AM (#41487039)

    Obviously (at least if the Daily Mail is to be believed, and I do have some doubts about this), the guy does not belong in jail, nor does he belong on the sex offenders list. The worst that should have happened to him was that he had to apologize to everyone he sent this message to, nothing more, nothing less.

    Negligent? Maybe, but to err is human. All too often these days a simple mistake (whether it be sending the message or buying a Blackberry in the first place) is twisted into something that it simply is not: a crime.

  • Where are they? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dunbal (464142) * on Friday September 28, 2012 @08:18AM (#41487073)
    Lawyers are always going on about "intent". So, where are they in this case? Oh wait no "intent" is just another tool used to put you in jail, not to help you get out.
    • Re:Where are they? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 28, 2012 @08:31AM (#41487187)

      There must usually be a guilty mind (mens rea) but - and you'll need to check the offence for exactly what's required -

      1. Not always. There are strict or near-strict liability offences, e.g. carrying a knife where the only mindful aspect is knowing that you're carrying it;

      2. Even then, there are loads of other forms of guilty mind: recklessness, knowledge, belief, (criminal) negligence, etc. Recklessness is particularly interesting: as of 2003 this is by default subjective, i.e. you have to show that the defendant knew that there would be a risk of a particular outcome but that he went to take that risk anyway. I might try as follows:

      i) Firstly, show that he knew that it was easy to accidentally send messages to everyone - perhaps easier if he'd set up an "everyone including the kids" contact group.

      i) Secondly, show the guy was in the habit of sending explicit messages to his partner.

      It's like chucking stones around and accidentally hitting a greenhouse. Sure, every young guy thinks he is hot shit and will never fuck anything up, but if he is aware of the risk which comes from fucking up and breaking the greenhouse yet still chucks stones around, he has a guilty mind.

      A 9 month suspended sentence is OK. What is far worse for him is the effect of his criminal record on esp. employment prospects. The law on spent convictions is completely fucked (e.g. sex offender register, enhanced CRB disclosure) and essentially condemns all but the least of criminals for life - coincidentally making them desperate and likely to commit more crime.

    • by Shadow99_1 (86250)

      The article didn't talk much about it at all, but I'm betting any lawyer worth being called that would have argued he had no mens rea (mental intent) to specifically message those girls. However he did have an intent to have sexual actions, which does sort of change things legally.

      As an example... A very different case, but if someone had the intent to kill a lawyer (for instance) and used a grenade through the window to effect the murder... But the lawyer was out and so the secretary died instead. Now he h

      • The prosecution arguing for a transfer of intent and his lawyer arguing against.

        Killing the lawyer is a crime, so intending to kill the lawyer is relevant when you end up killing the secretary by mistake. You were attempting to commit a crime, and you did.

        Fucking your (non-minor) SO is not a crime, nor is inviting your SO to fuck. You were not attempting to commit a crime, but you did.

        If there was "transfer of intent" then it should be a transfer of the intent to commit a non-criminal action.

  • by cs668 (89484) <cservin@cromagnon.com> on Friday September 28, 2012 @08:26AM (#41487145)

    A woman at work was having an affair with a man in the office. She wanted to send him a sexy picture via email, she accidentally sent it to the 4th floor distribution list.

    She was gone so fast that I didn't even see her after the email, and she came back to get her things after hours.

  • by Murdoch5 (1563847) on Friday September 28, 2012 @08:38AM (#41487279)
    This isn't a Blackberry issue, this is an issue about a slip of the finger, I think Jail was a little extreme. He didn't ask these girls for sex on purpose. Plus I'm sure he said more then just "lets have sex', there was probably some indication that it was meant for a certain person and not everyone.
  • by queazocotal (915608) on Friday September 28, 2012 @09:42AM (#41488127)

    http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2003/42/contents [legislation.gov.uk]
    The relevant section is http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2003/42/section/10 [legislation.gov.uk]
    "Causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity

    (1)A person aged 18 or over (A) commits an offence if—
    (a)he intentionally causes or incites another person (B) to engage in an activity,
    (b)the activity is sexual, and
    (c)either—
    (i)B is under 16 and A does not reasonably believe that B is 16 or over, or
    (ii)B is under 13.
    (2)A person guilty of an offence under this section, if the activity caused or incited involved—
    (a)penetration of B’s anus or vagina,
    (b)penetration of B’s mouth with a person’s penis,
    (c)penetration of a person’s anus or vagina with a part of B’s body or by B with anything else, or
    (d)penetration of a person’s mouth with B’s penis,is liable, on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years.
    (3)Unless subsection (2) applies, a person guilty of an offence under this section is liable—
    (a)on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or both;
    (b)on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years."

    "would you fuck me" - is clearly inciting penetration, so you can do up to 14 years for this.

    This is _NOT_ a strict liability offence.
    The jury must have had reason to believe that he intended to do this.
    Doing it by accident _CANNOT_ lead to a conviction, unless the judge misdirects them.
    For example - if he'd directed that because he intended to send it to one person on the list, that intent carried over to the unintended recipients.

    Indeed, I can't seem to see any 'strict liability' offences in the act.
    I may have missed some.
    At a minimum you need to have intended the action and not known the other party was underage.

  • Really, if you are in a sexual relationship, you could at least have the courtesy to ask for sex in person. SMS has all the warmth of a late postcard.

When I left you, I was but the pupil. Now, I am the master. - Darth Vader

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