Blackmailer had online 'fantasy world'

Last updated 10:56 29/11/2013
Brandyn Alan Stewart
ROSS GIBLIN/Fairfax NZ
FACEBOOK BLACKMAILER: Brandyn Alan Stewart.

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A Facebook blackmailer who threatened to put photographs of naked or semi-naked girls on the internet has been sentenced to 11 months' home detention.

A lawyer for Brandyn Alan Stewart, 21, said there was no physical contact and it was all a "fantasy world online".

Stewart, of Upper Hutt, had never touched any girl or gone looking for any apart from online, lawyer Steve Gill said in the High Court at Wellington today.

Stewart had posed as a 16-year-old on Facebook and befriended girls aged 16, 14, and 11, although he thought the 11-year-old was older, Justice David Collins said.

The judge said Stewart persuaded them to send photographs of themselves naked or wearing underwear.

When he got the photographs Stewart then told the 16-year-old she should have sex with him, demanded more photographs from the 14-year-old, and instructed the 11-year-old to keep in contact with him.

The judge said Stewart had targeted young girls on social networking sites to groom them for his sexual gratification. He threatened to disclose the photographs of them on the internet and in the case of the 11-year-old he did send a photograph of her to one of her friends which made her think Stewart would go through with his threats.

In no case were Stewart's demands sucessful, the judge said.

Stewart pleaded guilty to three charges of blackmail and two of doing an indecent act on a young person in inducing two of the girls to take photographs and send them to him. The charges covered December to February.

The judge said he had reports about Stewart's attention deficit disorder that contributed to him behaving impulsively.

In setting the sentence, he took into account that Stewart had previously been convicted of offences that were "factually similar", but also that he should get credit for pleading guilty.

As part of the 11 months' home detention Stewart has to take treatment and counselling as directed, he cannot have access to any internet-capable device unless an approved person supervises him and he cannot have contact with anyone under the age of 16 unless supervisied.

He also loses the Samsung Galaxy phone he had when police arrested him.

Speaking after the sentencing Stewart said the photographs of the girls had been deleted "pretty well straight away".

He said he did not agree that he had done everything alleged, and his motives were not what was alleged, but he pleaded guilty because he did not want to go to jail.

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