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'I've seen her at her most vulnerable' - revenge porn victim's friend shares impact of 'depraved' crime

PUBLISHED: 08:54 17 August 2019 | UPDATED: 14:45 19 August 2019

Kim Arthurton, right, and Jane Gant. Photo: Jane Gant

Kim Arthurton, right, and Jane Gant. Photo: Jane Gant

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The best friend of a woman who was subject to a revenge porn attack has spoken of the months of "trauma and distress" and the impact of the crime on victims and their families and friends.

Kim Arthurton, who has slammed the justice system after her ex-boyfriend avoided jail after he harrassed her and sent sexually-explicit pictures and videos of her to family and friends. Picture: SOPHIE WYLLIEKim Arthurton, who has slammed the justice system after her ex-boyfriend avoided jail after he harrassed her and sent sexually-explicit pictures and videos of her to family and friends. Picture: SOPHIE WYLLIE

Kim Arthurton, 55, from Wymondham, waived her anonymity to speak out after her ex-partner Michael Young was given a suspended sentence for sending explicit sexual videos and naked pictures of her with the intent to cause distress.

Young, 48, of Summerfield Gardens, Lowestoft, appeared at Norwich Magistrates' Court and received a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, for sending the images of Ms Arthurton to her teenage daughter, brother of her late long-term partner and friend via WhatsApp and social media after she ended their five-month relationship.

And now Ms Arthurton's friend, Jane Gant, has shared the impact the distressing crime had on her friend and those close to her.

Mrs Gant said: "I've known Kim for years. I met him (Young) and fell for the charm as well, and thought he was great.

Kim Arthurton, left, and Jane Gant, right. Photo: Jane GantKim Arthurton, left, and Jane Gant, right. Photo: Jane Gant

"But within 24 hours of her breaking it off he was sending me abusive messages about her.

"What makes him think I'm going to believe the word of someone I've just met over Kim?

"I'd been through the death of her partner with her.

"I've seen her at her most vulnerable immediately after the birth of her daughter."

Michael Young, 48, from Summerfield Gardens, Lowestoft, who received a suspended prison sentence and restraining order for disclosing private sexual photographs and films of his ex-girlfriend, Kim Arthurton, as well as committing harrassment without violence and breaching a non-molestation order against her. Picture: KIM ARTHURTONMichael Young, 48, from Summerfield Gardens, Lowestoft, who received a suspended prison sentence and restraining order for disclosing private sexual photographs and films of his ex-girlfriend, Kim Arthurton, as well as committing harrassment without violence and breaching a non-molestation order against her. Picture: KIM ARTHURTON

Mrs Gant, 48, from Wymondham, said seeing the images of her friend did not upset her, but the intent behind sending them did.

"Physically looking at them didn't bother me," she said.

"It was the fact that someone could be so depraved to try to humiliate me and to embarrass Kim by sending them to me."

READ MORE: 'Controlling' man sent explicit revenge porn videos to ex-partner's teenage daughter

Kim Arthurton, left, and Jane Gant, right. Photo: Jane GantKim Arthurton, left, and Jane Gant, right. Photo: Jane Gant

And Mrs Gant added that she was shocked at the sentence Young received.

"I'm horrified by the magistrates' decision," she said.

"I truly could not believe it.

"A lot of emphasis was put on the fact that [he] looked shameful in the dock. The defence lawyer said he'll learn from his mistakes.

"It's outrageous that they've given him a suspended sentence.

"The prosecutor read out the texts in court knowing these were sent to children."

She added: "Kim just felt completely helpless. We'd been through almost 11 months of trauma and distress for nothing.

"What was the point? He got away with a slapped wrist."

Almost 200 cases of revenge porn have been reported to the police in Norfolk since it was criminalised four years ago, and officers have said the rise in reports could be down to increased awareness.

194 people reported the crime since 2015 with numbers steadily increasing year-on-year.

In 2015, 29 people reported being victims of revenge porn, with the number rising to 34 in 2016, 42 in 2017 and 57 in 2018.

Figures published in July reveal that there have been 32 offences recorded by police so far in 2019.

Mrs Gant said the experience had made her more aware of the impact of the crime, and said: "I've never had to deal with this with my children and now I'm drilling it into them.

"If you wouldn't send it to your grandma don't send it to anyone."

But she added that the images of Ms Arthurton were taken without her consent, and said: "It's one thing to send someone a picture but she knew nothing about them until I received them.

"I told police as I wanted him to know I wasn't intimidated."

READ MORE: Nearly half of revenge porn cases are dropped by the victim

A spokesperson for the Revenge Porn Helpline, the UK's only dedicated service for victims of revenge porn, described the crime as "incredibly invasive and cruel".

They said: "We recommend a few immediate actions to all victims of intimate image abuse.

"Don't panic - remember that you have done nothing wrong and have been the victim of a crime.

"Screenshot the evidence - anything and everything from messages to where you have seen the content. Report the crime to the police on 101 and call the Revenge Porn Helpline.

"From there, we can advise on the process of reporting to the police, the law as it applies to each case, signpost to other relevant services, and help with the removal of any content online.

"82% of content reported to us is removed. Calling us will help.

"We are a busy service, so cannot offer long-term support to our clients but work hard to ensure every person who contacts the Revenge Porn Helpline receives the help, support, and reassurance they deserve."

- For help and support, contact the Revenge Porn Helpline on 03456 000 459 or email help@revengeporn helpline.org.uk. For more information, visit the website.

READ MORE: Revenge porn victim receives worldwide support after blasting ex-partner's suspended prison sentence

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