In the Media

Swimming coach who accidentally sent sexually explicit messages to teenagers freed

PUBLISHED September 27, 2012

A swimming coach whose inept grasp of how to use his mobile phone led to him being jailed for inadvertently sending sexually explicit messages to teenagers has been freed by appeal judges.

Craig Daniel Evans, 24, composed intimate messages on his BlackBerry device intended for an unknown paramour. But, due to lack of expertise with the phone, he sent the blue missives via BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) to every single person on his contact list.

The recipients included two underage girls and Evans, of Romney Close, Birmingham, was jailed for 18 months on July 27, at the city's Crown Court, after being convicted of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

Now, however, judges at the Court of Appeal in London have freed him after concluding that his "misguided use of his BlackBerry" made it "difficult to conclude that he was targeting anyone".

The girls, aged 13 and 14, received the BBM messages from Evans who worked as a coach at a swimming club, but his counsel, Sharon Bahia, argued that he ought not to have been jailed in the unique circumstances of the case.

Agreeing and allowing the appeal, Lord Justice Elias said: "The facts of this case are rather unusual...messages reading 'Would you f**k me? Fast or slow? Skin on skin' were sent to every single contact in his phone, including members of his own family.

"The fact that they were repeated shows that he was evidently misguided in the use of his BlackBerry. It is difficult to conclude that he was targeting anyone.

"There were a number of mitigating factors in this case. We conclude that, taking into account the mitigating factors, the appropriate sentence was one of nine months".

"We have concluded that, given the unusual circumstances, this is a case in which, although the custody threshold was passed, it would be appropriate for the sentence to be suspended," concluded the judge, who was sitting with Mr Justice Coulson and Mrs Justice Thirlwall.