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Notification Requirement Quashed on Appeal

HMA v JOHN MONEAGLE 2017

A man who was found guilty of “sexting” his drumming student has had an appeal against his conviction refused but his notification requirement quashed. Mr John Moneagle, was convicted of a s38 offence of “behaving in a threatening or abusive manner likely to cause a reasonable person to suffer fear or alarm” by sending “sexually inappropriate” text messages to a 25 year old drummer who was in his pipe band.

It was ruled that the Sheriff did nor err in repelling a defence submission of “no case to answer” and held that she was entitled to convict the man of this offence. The 59 year old appellant was a person of trust and authority and the conversation between and his student became sexual which alarmed the 25 year old.

The Sheriff stated that Mr Moneagle used “insulting sexual expressions.” Mr Moneagle’s solicitor advocate John Keenan, submitted that the no case to answer submission should have been upheld as the appellant and complainer were both adults and even if it was insulting it would not cause fear and alarm to the “hypothetical reasonable person”.

It was also argued that the sheriff erred in certifying that there was a “significant sexual aspect” to the appellant’s behaviour in committing the offence. On appeal it was stated that the sheriff “was entitled to form the view that the accused clearly intended to send the text messages and the language is of his choosing.

The sheriff is entitled to regard the appellant’s words and behaviour as sufficient to cause fear and alarm.” Therefore, this was upheld. However, the court held that the purported certification under section 92 of the 2003 Act should be quashed. As there was not significant sexual element to the offender’s behaviour the notification requirement that the appellant was subject to on conviction by the Sheriff was quashed by the appeal court.

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