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 and placed on the 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 where images were kept for sexual motivation or the gratification of others.
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.
Police encourage parents to consider setting guidelines about mobile phone use. They are also advised to talk to their children about sexting and encourage them not to communicate with people they do not know.