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Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 2016

Section 50: Possession of pornographic images of rape and assault by penetration

This Section amends Part 5 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 (“the 2008 Act”) which provides for the offence of possession of extreme pornographic images, so as to extend its provision to cover the possession of extreme pornographic images that depict non-consensual sexual penetration.

Subsection (2) amends section 63(6) of the 2008 Act, so as to include a reference to new subsection (7A) (inserted into the 2008 Act by section 37 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015).

Specifically, subsection (7A) includes two additional categories of prohibited material: an image which portrays, in an explicit and realistic way: (i) an act which involves the non-consensual penetration of a person’s vagina, anus or mouth by another with the other person’s penis; and (ii) an act which involves the non-consensual sexual penetration of a person’s vagina or anus by another with a part of the other person’s body or anything else.

The new category of prohibited material will include any image of that nature, irrespective of whether the act is real or simulated (or staged) or whether the person has come into possession of that image from an electronic source or otherwise.

Subsection (3) amends section 66 of the 2008 Act to apply a defence to possession of an image that portrays an act within new subsection (7A), alongside existing defences to the section 63 offence, to a person who is a participant in the image, as well as the possessor, where he or she can prove that, despite any appearance to the contrary, consent was given (freely and by someone who had capacity).

Subsection (4) amends section 67 to provide that a person found guilty of an offence of possessing images coming within the ambit of new subsection (7A) will be liable to a maximum sentence of imprisonment for three years, or a fine, or both.

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