Landmark case sounds warning on criminal mobile phone use

A TEENAGER who had a recording of a 15-year-old being attacked and robbed has been spared a conviction for possessing child exploitation material in a landmark case that sounds a warning for mobile phone users.

The 17-year-old girl pleaded guilty in Cairns Children's Court yesterday to one count of possessing child exploitation material.

The girl, who cannot be named legally, had attacked and robbed a teenager in Bentley Park and the court determined a recording of the incident on her phone met the definition of child exploitation material.

The charge has primarily been used in cases of child sex images but the court concluded it could also be used for violent images and video.

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The court yesterday heard someone else had recorded the attack and robbery showing the teen "leading the attack" as part of a group.

In 2020, she was sentenced to probation for the attack.

In sentencing the teen to a six-month good behaviour bond for the possession of CEM, Judge Leanne Clare said she was not aware "of anyone else being charged in this way".

She said that while the violence and robbery "cannot be sugar coated", no further punishment was warranted for the possession.

"It is an incidental part of the robbery, albeit an unpleasant one," she said.

"Though you didn't make that footage, someone recorded it on the phone and it was still on the phone days later when police found it.

"Last year, you were sentenced for your role in that fight - the judge said the video would not call for further punishment. I'd have to agree."

Cairns Court House.
Cairns Court House.

However, she said a message needed to be sent to the community about the use of mobile phones to record distressing incidents.

"There has been a trend - perhaps it's part of the ease in which phones and cameras are available," she said.

"Most members of the community have been shocked by the trend of using their mobile phones and many people who do that would not realise it was a criminal offence. The most important part of this prosecution today is to get it known that it is a criminal offence."

Prior to receiving her sentence, the offender said to the court that since the incident, she had "been waiting for this to be finalised so that I can figure out what I was going to do next".

"I am trying to put my life together. I realised what I had done is wrong and I want to learn from my mistakes," she said.

Earlier in the hearing, Crown prosecutor Aaron Dunkerton said the video was "inextricably linked with the robbery offence" and asked for a good behaviour bond.

Defence barrister Rochelle Logan said her client had been performing well on probation and that she had positive plans for the future.

A co-accused male teen is set to face trial on April 12 for CEM charges.

Originally published as Landmark case sounds warning on criminal mobile phone use


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