WARNING: Some readers may find this story distressing.
Soon after a 14-year-old girl started working at Kmart Belconnen, a predator more than 20 years her senior began messaging her over social media.
Scott Ian Whittaker, the store’s 35-year-old duty manager, who had just been unlisted from a child sex offender register for an earlier crime, began communicating with her over Snapchat in late 2017. He then began to rape her when she was 15.
By the end of 2018, he was using her to make sexually abusive films.
On Thursday (19 August), the child sex offender hung his head when Chief Justice Helen Murrell told the ACT Supreme Court she would jail him for nine-and-a-half years.
Court documents show police raided his home in Bonner and workplace in Fyshwick in March 2021, finding 383 child abuse videos on his iPhone.
This graphic footage featured 100 different children aged between 18 months and 15 years being sexually abused.
The raid also led to the discovery of his abuse of the girl. When police examined his laptop, they found sexualised images and videos of her, timestamped to show they were made when she was 15.
Their relationship was outlined in the abusive films he made of her and the messages between them.
Justice Murrell said the sexual relationship between the pair lasted around 12 months, from just before the girl’s 15th birthday to when she turned 16, and there was a “very significant” age difference that involved a heavy power imbalance.
She said the girl believed their relationship was one of a “boyfriend/girlfriend” and she consented to the sexual interaction.
“This perception does not detract from the abusive nature of the relationship,” Justice Murrell said.
“By virtue of her age, the complainant lacked the capacity to give real consent.”
Justice Murrell said a pre-sentence report had assessed the now 39-year-old father of four as being at an above-average risk of sexual reoffending.
The report stated while Whittaker said he understood why his actions were wrong and understood the age of consent, he also described his relationship with the girl as consensual and claimed he was in love with her.
“He said that his behaviour was motivated by feelings of isolation and loneliness,” Justice Murrell said.
Earlier this year he pleaded guilty to 25 charges, including engaging in a sexual relationship with a child, sexual intercourse with a person between 10 and 16, using a child to produce child exploitation material and possessing child abuse material.
The head sentence expires in February 2031, but his non-parole period of four years and nine months means he is eligible to be released from custody in May 2026.
Due to an earlier conviction, Whittaker had been on the NSW Child Protection Register until March 2017.
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.
In an emergency call 000.