30 April 2024

Grandmother avoids convictions after uploading child abuse material of granddaughter to TikTok

| Albert McKnight
TikTok app

A woman who filmed herself committing an indecent act on her granddaughter has been sentenced. Photo: James Coleman.

CONTENT WARNING: This article refers to child abuse.

A grandmother was seen crying when told she would not be convicted for filming a video containing child abuse material of her own granddaughter and then uploading it to TikTok, in a case a judge described as “highly unusual”.

She is a foreign national who arrived in Australia to live with her family not long before 2023 when she gave her toddler granddaughter a massage while the girl was naked at their home.

ACT Supreme Court Justice Belinda Baker said on Tuesday (30 April) that such massages are common in the grandmother’s home country.

But straight after the massage, she used her mobile phone to record a 20-second video of the naked girl, exposing her genital area.

She saved the video in TikTok, which resulted in it being published on the social media giant’s servers. While it was only saved on her personal account, which meant it was not publicly available, she sent a link of it to her daughter via Facebook Messenger.

When her daughter saw the message, she called her mother and told her to delete the video. The grandmother then ‘unsent’ the video, which means removing a message from Facebook Messenger.

READ MORE Grandmother uploaded child abuse material of her granddaughter onto TikTok

“[She] is not particularly tech-savvy. She believed that ‘unsending’ the video would have the effect of deleting the video from the TikTok application,” Justice Baker said.

“It did not. In fact, the video remained on the application, although it could not be seen by other TikTok users.”

Two days later, TikTok identified that the video was child abuse material and reported it to the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children and banned the grandmother’s account.

Police raided the grandmother’s home about a week-and-a-half later and arrested her.

She does not speak English, and because her dialect is different from the dialect that interpreters usually use when speaking her language, this resulted in difficulties during her arrest.

She was held in custody for two days before getting bail, then went on to plead guilty to committing an act of indecency on a person under 10 and using a carriage service to publish child abuse material.

Prosecutors accepted the grandmother hadn’t committed her offences for the purpose of sexual gratification, nor had she intended for anyone to see the video other than the girl’s mother.

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She stopped all formal education when she married her husband at 15, was remorseful and did not appreciate that her actions were criminal under Australian law.

Her daughter, the mother of the granddaughter, had told the court about how difficult it had been for her to see her own mother in this situation.

“We are just hoping for the best so we can restore peace in my family,” she said.

Justice Baker said she was satisfied this was “an exceptional case” in which it was appropriate not to impose convictions.

“I can see no purpose that would be served by the imposition of a conviction for either offence,” she said.

“The likelihood of her reoffending is non-existent. Nor is there any need for the sentences to vindicate any harm caused to a victim or a victim’s family.”

She said there was no evidence that the video had been seen by anyone other than the girl’s mother, aside from law enforcement officials.

While the grandmother was not convicted, she had to sign what was effectively good behaviour orders for one year.

If this story has raised any concerns for you, 1800RESPECT, the national 24-hour sexual assault, family and domestic violence counselling line, can be contacted on 1800 737 732. Help and support are also available through the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre on 02 6247 2525, the Domestic Violence Crisis Service ACT 02 6280 0900, and Lifeline on 13 11 14. In an emergency, call Triple Zero.

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