A Crown prosecutor has argued a male sports star deserves “a significant period” in prison after pleading guilty to soliciting and possessing child abuse material of five victims under the age of 16 while in Canberra.
A pre-sentence hearing for the man, whose name has been suppressed, was heard in the ACT Supreme Court today (24 June).
According to the statement of facts, the offender would ask the underage girls for nude photographs of themselves via Snapchat and Instagram, sometimes in exchange for alcohol.
Crown prosecutor Patricia McEniery argued full-term imprisonment was appropriate as the man had “requested” and “insisted” nude photographs, even though his victims “were reluctant to do so”.
She also said the offender had not shown genuine remorse, but rather “regret … at facing punishment” and the impact his arrest had had on his career and standing in society.
“[The pre-sentencing report showed he had] limited understanding of the impact his predatory conduct and behaviour over a substantial period of time [had on his victims],” Ms McEniery said.
“Over a roughly four-year period [his offending] involved the psychological manipulation of five female victims [under the age of 16].”
However, his criminal defence lawyer Steve Robinson argued his client should be given only a “brief” prison sentence of “a few months”.
He said while the charges were “of course serious”, his client deserved less time behind bars because the nature of the images the offender saved of his victims were “not at a level frequently seen at this court”.
Mr Robinson pointed to his client’s background as a reason why the Justice should consider a shorter prison term.
“[He] raised himself … because he raised himself, he did not have the [parental] role modelling,” he said.
He also said the offender’s father had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and the offender was “his only connection to the past”.
“Time is precious [for them],” Mr Robinson said.
“A suspended sentence can still have a deterrent effect. It’s not nothing.”
Mr Robinson also argued due to his client’s standing in his chosen sporting community, he could have been subject to a “groupie mentality”.
“Someone who hasn’t had [appropriate] role modelling could be more susceptible to the environment [they’re in],” he said.
Crown prosecutor McEniery disagreed, saying even though the offender may have been part of a sporting “fraternity”, that was not evidence it would “diminish his moral culpability”.
The now 33-year-old’s offending was laid out in the facts tendered to the court.
It’s agreed he approached one victim when she was 13 years old in about late 2015 or early 2016. He would send her nude photos of himself on Snapchat and wanted photos of her in return.
While the girl originally refused to send him such photos, he stated, “I don’t like a person who doesn’t send back”, and words to the effect, “If you really care for me, you’ll send me this”.
From time to time, he would direct her on how to pose for the photos.
He requested another victim, then aged 15, send him photos over Instagram after she asked him to buy her alcohol.
He also proposed sexual favours in exchange for alcohol.
The man’s ongoing bail was granted, with sentencing scheduled for Monday (27 June).