Teenager released without penalty for receiving ‘sexting’ pics, but will be marked as sex offender for life [The Advertiser, by Andrew Dowdell, 06/12/2015]

A TEENAGER who received “sexting” photos from female friends has been released without conviction on child pornography charges — but will be marked as a sex offender on future any police record check.

The man had just turned 18 when he was charged with possession of child pornography, and admitted to receiving a number of pictures from female teenage friends.

District Court judge Simon Stretton said it was “difficult to imagine a less serious version” of child pornography charges — noting that none of the images found on the man’s phone involved child abuse.

“In short, your primary offending was looking at non-sexual images of women in your own age range, a third of which had been sent to you by two of your own friends,” Judge Stretton said.

“There was no sex depicted in any image so your activity did not support in any way the industry that molests children. There were relatively few images and of the least serious type.”

Judge Stretton said a “particularly unusual” aspect of the case was the close age proximity between the man and the teenagers who sent the photographs.

“You are only just 18 and the majority of the images are of females between 14 and 17,” he said.

“Almost a third of the images are of two of your friends that they voluntarily sent to you attached to emails, one was a former girlfriend.”

Judge Stretton said a psychologist had found the man was “small and immature” and at low risk of reoffending.

“You do not suffer from a paedophilic disorder, essentially as your sexual interest is in women in your own age range,” he said.

Judge Stretton said while the man did “accept it is wrong to look at photos of teenage girls” he was a normal young man who had never been in trouble with the law.

“It would be difficult to imagine a less serious version of this offence being committed … in my view you fall into that rare category of cases where there is good reason for discharging you without recording a conviction or penalty,” he said.

Despite recording no conviction or penalty, Judge Stretton said the offence would continue as a black mark against the young man in future.

“Whatever may happen here … the finding of guilt is recorded and will be disclosed on any police record check,” he said.

“Accordingly, you will have a record available for checking by anyone who wants to require a check in the community, insofar as it might need to be protected by knowledge of your history.”

In July, Attorney-General John Rau announced the government was considering changing child pornography laws to deal with the ‘realities of youth behaviour” and that any amendments would still protect “vulnerable people”.