A man who kept sexts sent between his teenage stepdaughter and her boyfriend because he wanted police to act has been convicted of possessing child pornography and placed on the sex offenders register
A man who kept sexts sent between his teenage stepdaughter and her boyfriend because he wanted police to act has been convicted of possessing child pornography and placed on the sex offenders register.
In a case that could have consequences for parents concerned about sexting, 57-year-old Ashan Ortell was sentenced in the County Court this week after admitting to copying the naked images on to a computer and USB stick.
Despite warnings he could be prosecuted, Ortell kept the pictures because he was not satisfied by the response from police and the girl's school. He had informed them about the sexual photos his stepdaughter had sent to her boyfriend.
After refusing to delete the pictures, Ortell's computer and USBs were seized in multiple raids by police in 2013. They found 18 images on the devices.
At the time Ortell was caring for his ex-partner's daughter and his three younger children. He and the girl's mother had separated sometime earlier.
In sentencing Ortell to a 12-month good behaviour bond, Judge Jane Patrick said it was a "very unusual case" which differed from the typical possession of child pornography where images were kept for sexual motivation or the gratification of others.
"That is not the case in your situation," she said. "You kept the images, I am satisfied, because you were very concerned about what had been going on and foolishly decided that this was the way to deal with it."
The court heard that Ortell had copied the pictures after confiscating a phone from his stepdaughter, who at the time was aged about 15.
While Ortell's crime was at the "lowest end of this type of offending in terms of moral culpability", Judge Patrick said the law stated that people may not keep images of a sexual nature of children.
"There is no suggestion of any exploitation of them by anybody. You made no attempt to conceal the images," she said. "In fact you were so concerned that you contacted the authorities about the images."
Under child pornography laws, Ortell could have faced a maximum five years in prison over the conviction. However Judge Patrick said any sentence must be proportionate to the severity of the crime.
The court heard that Ortell had no prior criminal history and had excellent prospects of rehabilitation. Judge Patrick said the effect on the girl or her boyfriend was unclear as no victim impact statement was given.
Under his guilty plea, Ortell was told he would have to comply with the requirements of the sex offenders register for eight years.
Registered sex offenders must regularly report their whereabouts and are not allowed to work with children.
Victoria Police said that many people were unaware of types of offences they could be committing by keeping or sending naked photos.