Bedale woman Deborah Armstrong fined for tweeting identity of the alleged victim in the trial of Coronation Street's Michael Le Vell (From The Northern Echo)
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Bedale woman Deborah Armstrong fined for tweeting identity of the alleged victim in the trial of Coronation Street's Michael Le Vell
Updated 2:39pm Wednesday 19th March 2014 in News
A NORTH Yorkshire woman who admitted tweeting the identity of the alleged victim in the trial of Coronation Street's Michael Le Vell has been fined.
Deborah Armstrong, 37, wrote on her Twitter account: "I hope Michael Le Vell's victim...now goes public - and identified the female involved."
It was re-tweeted and when pointed out to her that her tweet was breaking the law she told others: "You are not my judge and jury."
Today Armstrong, of St Gregory's Close, Bedale, North Yorkshire, was find £110 after pleading guilty to an offence under the Sexual Offences Amendment Act on September 10 last year, of publishing information that could lead to members of the public identifying a complainant in a sexual offences case.
Fran Gough, prosecuting, told Manchester Magistrates Court that the law gives lifelong anonymity to anyone if they are the complainant in a sex offence case and nothing must be published that can identify them.
Ms Gough said the trial of Coronation Street actor Michael Le Vell for sex offences attracted widespread media interest.
Mr Le Vell was acquitted of all charges.
But at the end of the trial Armstrong, using her Twitter account of DebbieJ1976, tweeted the identity of the complainant in the case because, Miss Gough said, "she was angry at the perceived injustice of the acquittal".
Miss Gough said there was a strong public interest in protecting the anonymity of people who make complaints of sex offences against them - otherwise they may not come forward.
Police tracked Armstrong down and she was arrested a month later.
Armstrong, who had no previous convictions and is understood to be the full-time carer for her mother, admitted to officers she did not immediately delete the tweet, but later took the tweet down and closed her account.
Passing sentence, District Judge Khalid Qureshi said: "It's not like the old days where it's a quiet chat in the pub, this becomes public within minutes.
"I accept there was no malice behind the issue. Complainants of the subject of these types of offences need every encouragement that if they have the courage of their convictions they will have the protection of anonymity of this type, whatever the outcome, whether the prosecution is successful or not, they are entitled to that anonymity.
"The fear is, 'I dare not make a complaint because somebody might put my name on Twitter'.
"The offence carries only a financial penalty. That's Parliament's decision, in my view these cases could be looked at far more seriously in terms of sanction."
Armstrong was fined £110, ordered to pay £85 costs and a victim surcharge of £20.