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‘Death fetish’ porn charge man acquitted

By Staf Newsletter  |  Posted: January 13, 2011

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A MAN from Stone who downloaded “death fetish” pictures from the internet has been cleared in a test case verdict by jurors of having “extreme pornography”.

The photos, posed by actors and showing scenes of women being stabbed and suffocated, were found on Kevin Webster’s computer during a police raid at home.

New legislation makes it illegal to possess pornography that realistically portrays acts likely to cause serious injury to genitals, anus or breast, or death.

In the first jury trial of its kind, Webster, aged 47, of Cresswood Drive, Stone, was acquitted of four charges of possessing extreme pornography.

The jury heard the four pictures were samples from sets produced by a company called Drop Dead Gorgeous using actors and actresses for a niche pornography market known as “death fetish”.

They showed women being stabbed in the breast or wrapped in cling film and being suffocated in a bath.

Two university academics in the field of pornography gave evidence in the trial at Stafford Crown Court.

One of them, Feona Attwood, Professor of Sex, Communication and Culture at Sheffield Hallam University, described the photos as like stills from a Hammer horror film of the 1970s. She said the images were intended for sexual purposes, often known as “death fetish” but they were “quite clearly staged sets”.

Dr Clarissa Smith, a senior lecturer at Sunderland University specialising in pornography, told the court the images were produced by a company called Drop Dead Gorgeous and sold for six dollars a set of up to 100 photos.

The actresses in them were known for being able to “play dead” and had quite a fan base.

Webster opted not to give evidence in the trial and also made no comment during police interviews following his arrest on August 24 2009. The jury took just 90 minutes to reach their unanimous not guilty verdicts.

Judge Michael Cullum told the jurors afterwards that this had been a test case: “This is new legislation that is currently being interpreted, to determine where the line in the sand is.”

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