Youth's case transferred due to gravity of sex offending

A judge was so concerned about a rural Otago youth's predatory sexual offending, he had the case transferred to the Dunedin District Court.

The defendant was charged with blackmail, two counts of unlawful sexual connection and possession of firearm.

Because he was 16 when some of the offences took place, the case originally came before the Youth Court but Judge Kevin Phillips said the penalties he could impose in that jurisdiction were inadequate to reflect the offending.

That meant the teen lost automatic suppression when he appeared this week but defence counsel Brian Kilkelly said there could be severe consequences if his name was published.

He lived in a small community, had mental health issues, vulnerable siblings and an ailing grandparent who did not know about his activities, the court heard.

The judge granted suppression so as not to compromise the rehabilitative efforts that would go into helping the teenager.

The teenager met the first 14-year-old victim through Facebook and pestered her for intimate images.

After he repeatedly pressured her and sent her pictures of his own genitalia, she acquiesced.

But it did not end there.

On July 4, 2016, the defendant went to Milton and messaged the girl, telling her he wanted to meet for sex.

When she refused, he threatened to spread the graphic images she had sent.

"You demanded sexual intercourse in crude terms," the judge said.

The victim maintained her position and blocked the defendant on Facebook.

Just three months later, he contacted a 13-year-old on social media and asked her for explicit photos, too.

He met the girl and they had sex, but were interrupted by the victim's mother.

Judge Phillips said he knew the girl's age, despite claims to the contrary.

Another 14-year-old, who the defendant also knew was underage, became a target.

Despite the protestations of her friends, the youth lured her into having intercourse, too.

The judge said his comments that she initiated it were "alarming".

He also claimed to believe that if someone consented to sex, there was no age restriction.

"I don't accept anyone would think that," Judge Phillips said.

Mr Kilkelly described his client as socially isolated.

"The majority of his social contact is through social media and that's been to the detriment of his own developing socialisation," he said.

A report compiled for the court also highlighted the teenager's immaturity and struggles at school.

Judge Phillips called the victims "very brave people" and said the impact on them as they grew into womanhood and formed relationships was yet to be discovered.

The defendant was sentenced to five months' community detention and 200 hours' community work.

He was also placed on intensive supervision for two years, during which he was not to associate with under-16s, contact the victims, or possess or use an internet-capable device and to complete all recommended treatment.


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