Blogger who wrote about killing Girls Aloud cleared

Case tested whether Obscene Publications Act applied to the internet

A blogger who was charged with obscenity after he wrote an erotic story detailing the kidnap, sexual torture and murder of the pop group Girls Aloud was cleared at court yesterday after prosecutors offered no evidence against him.

Darryn Walker's case was the first time that the 1959 Obscene Publications Act had been applied to written material on the internet. His case was regarded as a test which could have had far-reaching ramifications for bloggers and publishers of online fiction.

But yesterday, on what was supposed to be the first day of Mr Walker's trial, the case was abandoned following the introduction of evidence from an information technology expert.

The Crown Prosecution Service said it originally charged Mr Walker believing that the story, called "Girls (Scream) Aloud", could be easily accessed by young fans of the group. But the IT expert said this was not the case and that the article could only be found by those who were specifically searching for such material. Unable to refute this, the CPS surrendered the case. It brought an end to a saga which started more than a year ago and was seen as one of the most significant censorship cases since the publisher Penguin was prosecuted for sanctioning DH Lawrence's novel Lady Chatterley's Lover in 1960.

Mr Walker, 35, was arrested in February 2008 by officers from Scotland Yard's Obscene Publications Unit who were alerted to his story by the Internet Watch Foundation. Last week the former civil servant, of South Shields, Tyneside, was told that he would be cleared and yesterday left Newcastle Crown Court after a short hearing in which the court heard that he had lost his job since he was arrested last year. He refused to comment as he left court.

The 7,300-word story tells of the kidnap of the chart-topping band from their tour bus. The author then explains in graphic and sexually-explicit terms how he wishes to kill the band's members – Nadine Coyle, Sarah Harding, Nicola Roberts, Kimberley Walsh and Cheryl Cole – and sell their limbs and other body parts on the internet auction site eBay.

Yesterday Tim Owen QC, defending Mr Walker, said: "It was never his intention to frighten or intimidate the members of Girls Aloud. He had written what he had described as an adult celebrity parody and was only meant to be for an audience of like-minded people."

David Perry QC, prosecuting, said: "A crucial aspect of the reasoning that led to the instigation of these proceedings was that the article in question, which was posted on the internet, was accessible to people who were particularly vulnerable – young people who were interested in a particular pop music group."

However, the report for the defence by an IT expert said this was not the case. A spokeswoman for the CPS said that the service was served with the new defence evidence on 12 June, two weeks before the trial. She added: "The case was reviewed again and in the light of the evidence, it was decided it could no longer go ahead. The prosecution was unable to provide sufficient evidence to contradict this [new evidence] and so took the decision there was no longer a realistic prospect of conviction."

Judge Esmond Faulks formally returned a not guilty verdict to the charge of publishing an obscene article and said Mr Walker was free to leave court.

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
Colombia's James Rodriguez celebrates one of his goals during the FIFA World Cup 2014 round of 16 match between Colombia and Uruguay at the Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
News
news
News
i100
Travel
Fair trade: the idea of honesty boxes relies on people paying their way
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
News
people
Sport
Antoine Griezmann has started two of France’s four games so far
sport
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary