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HMA v Jonathan Porter


Jun 28, 2023

At the High Court in Edinburgh today, Lady Wise sentenced Jonathan Porter to 4 years and 9 months in prison. The offender was found guilty of conspiracy to rape and sexually assault a child under the age of 13 years as well as taking, possession and distribution of indecent images and sexual touching of a child.

On sentencing, Lady Wise told Porter:

“The jury convicted you, after trial, of five charges. The first four related to the taking, possession and distribution of indecent images and sexual touching of a child; the fifth, the most serious charge, was of conspiracy to rape and sexually assault a child under the age of 13 years.

Charges 1,2,3 and 4 are related. You took a number of indecent images of a female child under the age of 10, including a sequence where she was bare chested and posing at your request and at least one of her bare buttocks on which you had written ‘KISS ME’ in green ink. Another image had a drawing on her naked buttock.  You created and possessed these photographs and sent them, albeit only to one person. As part of the creation of the last mentioned image you sexually touched the child by writing words on her naked body. While the recipient of the photographs did not apparently regard them or your actings as indecent the jury clearly considered that adopting a common sense approach they were indecent. I acknowledge that the distribution of these Category C images was very limited, but the whole circumstances were illustrative of a disturbingly unhealthy and indecent interest in a child.

The most serious charge of which you have been convicted is charge 5. You engaged in online chat over a period of days in October 2019 on two websites with someone you understood was a nanny to an 11-year-old girl but who was in fact an undercover operative known in these proceedings as ‘K’. You told K that you were interested in meeting a girl on whom you could perform sexual acts. K explained that she could provide the girl in her charge for that purpose. You were keen to check that K was genuine. Ultimately, you agreed with K that she would bring the girl to a hotel in the Newcastle area where the acts would take place. In the messages, which you accept you sent, you described in quite graphic detail the acts of rape and sexual assault you intended to perpetrate. The agreement was reached that you probably would carry out these acts on the child before Christmas 2019. No meeting took place because K reported the matter to police in Scotland who questioned you.

Your position to the police was that you had engaged in these online chats for something to do, someone to speak to and that you had no intention of acting upon it. You claimed not to have any sexual interest in children, something that the jury clearly rejected.

I have taken into account everything said on your behalf this morning by Mr   Lamb.    

You are 49-years-old and a first offender. You have been a contributing member of society, working as an accountant within a large organisation. However, the accounts you have given to the Criminal Justice Social Worker who has prepared two reports suggest that you continue to minimise the offences and that any acceptance of guilt is limited. I have taken the contents of those reports into account, although their recommendations do not reflect fully the gravity of the most significant offence of which you have been convicted.

The offence of conspiracy to rape and sexually assault a child under the age of 13 is of the most appalling nature and it is my duty to impose a sentence that reflects the appropriate level of condemnation of your actions, both so that you receive a suitable punishment and to act as a deterrent. The risk of you reoffending has been assessed as a medium one. Of course in relation to this charge there was no physical victim: no child was harmed as a result of the conspiracy because, albeit unknown to you, the child you agreed to rape was fictional. I have taken this unusual feature into account in determining sentence, such that the sentence I am imposing is considerably less than I would have imposed had there been actual harm.

I consider that there is no alternative to a custodial disposal on both types of charges of which you have been convicted.

The sentence I intend to impose will be a cumulo sentence so far as the indecent images and sexual behaviour towards a young child are concerned, with a separate sentence for the conspiracy to rape and sexually assault a child.

On charges 1,2,3 and 4, I impose a cumulo sentence of 9 months’ imprisonment.

On charge 5 I impose a sentence of 4 years’ imprisonment to run consecutive to the first sentence imposed.

Your sentence will be backdated to the date when you were remanded in custody after conviction.

Clearly the most serious offence for which you have now been sentenced had a significant sexual aspect to it. I order that you will remain subject to the notification requirements applicable to sex offenders for the remainder of your life. Your name has been added to the list of persons deemed unsuitable to work with children and other vulnerable individuals.”

28 June 2023