When press coverage of court becomes part of the punishment itself

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Every now and again, I read an article from which I conclude that the journalist writing it will never get repeat such sentences in copy again.

This week, Lincolnshire Live, the website of Trinity Mirror’s titles in Lincolnshire, carried perhaps the most remarkable court case I’ve read. Ever.

Warning: It’s not for the squeamish:

A pensioner who had sex with three different breeds of dogs claimed she did not realise it was illegal.

The details keep arriving, paragraph after paragraph:

Carol Bowditch, 64, was filmed having sex with a St Bernard, a black Labrador and an Alsatian.

Each paragraph seems to out-shock the previous one:

Her activities were exposed as a result of an RAF Police investigation which centred on a man identified as organising a bizarre sex party at which owners watched their dogs having sex with women and then went on to have sex themselves with the women.

Not just watched, it appears, but filmed:

Ultimately the investigation led police to visit Bowditch and when her home was searched officers found a dvd and a usb stick which both contained film of her with dogs.

And finally, a transcript from court the like of which I suspect has never been taken down in shorthand and then transcribed back into a story before:

Victoria Rose, prosecuting , told Lincoln Crown Court:

“Included was an eight minute and 59 seconds video of Mrs Bowditch engaging in vaginal and oral sex with a St Bernard dog named Oscar.

“When the defendant was interviewed she admitted she had penetrative sex with dogs.

“She accepted it had taken place over several years. She was unaware it was illegal.

“She identified the dogs. She said she had penetrative vaginal sex once with a labrador and twice with an alsation.

“She recalled she had vaginal and oral sex with a St Bernard.”

All in all, perhaps the most remarkable court case I’ve ever read – and one where the very fact court reporting exists became part of the trial:

James Gray, in mitigation, said “She is 64 and has no previous convictions.

“Both she and Mr Galloway have suffered considerable public humiliation.

“They have been ostracised by their friends and family.

“They have suffered that added element of punishment which in less salacious cases would not be present.”

Local journalism does job … and is described as an additional punishment? A court case of many firsts…

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