Youth blackmailed girl with photos

A youth who threatened to post naked photographs of a 14-year-old girl on the internet if she did not have sex with him has been sentenced on a charge of blackmail.

The youth (17) had convinced the girl to send him sexually explicit photos of herself via "Snapshot''.

He had been convicted and remanded to yesterday after earlier admitting the offence.

Dealt with by Judge Josephine Bouchier in the Dunedin District Court, he was sentenced to five months' community detention and 12 months' supervision.

The police summary said the defendant was at his home communicating with the victim via social media, between 9pm and 11pm one night earlier this year.

The victim was previously unknown to him.

The defendant initiated topics of a sexual nature and during the interaction convinced her to send four photographs of herself in various stages of undress via "Snapchat''.

As he was sent photographs, the defendant encouraged the victim to send more explicit photographs.

After receiving the photographs through "Snapchat'', he was able to "screenshot'' the explicit images and save them to a gallery on his cellphone.

When the victim became aware the defendant had saved the naked photographs and asked him to delete them from his gallery, he threatened her, stating that unless she had sexual intercourse with him he would post the naked photographs of her on the internet.

She reported the matter the next day.

During the reporting process, the defendant was texting her, threatening that unless she replied within a certain time he was going to post the naked photographs on the internet.

In explanation, the defendant stated he thought he was able to obtain sexual favours from the girl as she would not want her naked photographs on the internet.

Counsel Sarah Saunderson-Warner said the defendant's naivety and delayed social development were relevant to the offending and an explanation for him having "internet experiences rather than more direct human interactions''. He had received assistance for social anxiety.

Pre-sentence material included a psychiatric report.

The defendant had shown genuine remorse and continued to be remorseful for what he had done. He had family support and was a first offender.

There was no opposition to Crown counsel Robin Bates' request for destruction of the cellphone, Ms Saunderson-Warner said.

"The police have had it since the day in question. The images were saved on the phone 'and nowhere else'.''

With reference to the presentence report, Judge Bouchier noted the defendant said what he had done was "pure stupidity''. He had not thought the victim would go to the police. His then regular use of synthetic cannabis might have contributed to the offending.

The judge also noted the victim said she was "really scared'' of the defendant and that he might come after her and her friends.

Imposing community detention [with curfews] and supervision, the judge said it was the most appropriate sentence "given the defendant's first offender status, his age and his early guilty plea''.

Special conditions of supervision require the defendant to undergo treatment and counselling as directed. He is not to use or possess any internet-capable device unless under the direction of a probation officer or an approved adult.

He is not to have contact, either directly or indirectly, with the victim; and he is not to possess or consume alcohol, illicit drugs or any mind-altering substance.

The names of both the defendant and the victim were suppressed.

There was also an order for the destruction of his cellphone.

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