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Ex-MTV presenter avoids jail sentence for secret sex tapes

The Helsinki Court of Appeal has upheld a 14-month suspended prison sentence against former Finnish Music Television presenter Axl Smith for secretly recording video of sexual encounters with 29 women.

Axl Smith
Television personality Axl Smith in court during his trial in January. Image: Martti Kainulainen / Lehtikuva

The Helsinki Appeal Court has upheld a sentence imposed by the lower court on former television personality Axl Smith for secret sex tapes he recorded without the knowledge or consent of his partners.

On Friday, the court decided to uphold a suspended prison sentence of one year and two months handed down by the Helsinki District Court in February.

Smith was sentenced on 30 charges of voyeurism, two counts of disseminating information violating personal privacy and four counts of defamation.

The prosecutor had called for a stiffer sentence during the trial and appealed the verdict in the Court of Appeal. He called on the higher court to hand down the sentence he proposed in the lower court – a prison sentence of 18 months and a 100-day fine. Smith himself objected to a harsher sentence. 

The Appeal Court reviewed the case in a closed hearing, with Smith offering testimony via telephone.

Appeal Court cool on publicity argument

In its decision last February, the district court eased sentencing on Smith because of what it saw as the harm caused by the widespread publicity the case generated. The ex-VJ lost his job and was the subject of a great deal of negative exposure.

Unlike the district court, though, the appeal court did not view the publicity and its fallout as factors that would warrant a lighter sentence.

The court instead placed greater emphasis on Smith’s cooperation with the authorities during the investigation, saying this constituted a mitigating factor.

The district court also sentenced Smith to pay a total of 100,000 euros to his victims and to compensate the courts for trial costs to the tune of 50,000 euros.

All of the 29 victims were young women. None appealed the sentence that was handed down.

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