Home detention for teen blackmailer

DAVID CLARKSON
Last updated 05:00 18/06/2013

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A teenager has been granted home detention for a blackmail-by-text case that ended with the 40-year-old victim committing suicide.

The woman, now aged 18, will have to wait two weeks for Justice Christian Whata to receive submissions and decide whether she will get permanent name suppression.

She wept throughout her sentencing in the High Court at Christchurch after pleading guilty at a sentencing indication hearing last month where the judge said it was finely balanced whether she would get a jail term or a home detention sentence.

The victim has permanent name suppression. His family read a victim impact statement in court describing the woman as "callous" and saying they had been devastated by the loss of the father of two.

"We still feel she will never understand the true effects of her predatory behaviour," the family spokesman said.

The woman was 17 when she met the man, and formed a relationship that involved payments in exchange for oral sex. She said she felt guilty when she found he had a partner but "freaked out" when she thought she would not get the promised money.

Over a four-day period, she sent a series of texts threatening to "tell everyone that you are a sick pedo and I have all the texts to prove it".

She texted: "I'm only 17. It will look bad." She demanded $3000.

She then threatened to expose the relationship to the victim's partner.

The man told his partner, and then committed suicide the next day. Later that day, one more text arrived from the woman: "Make sure there's 4K in there tomorrow or I'll tell everyone you are a dirty old man."

Justice Whata said there was "plainly some connection between the blackmail and the victim's suicide", but the woman could not be sentenced on the basis that she was criminally culpable for the suicide, only that her conduct was a contributing factor.

It emerged at the sentencing that the woman had tried similar blackmail on another man a few months earlier. He had made a complaint and she received a police warning.

Justice Whata took into account her youth and her "immature judgment" at the time and imposed a home detention sentence. She was sentenced to home detention for 10 months, and 100 hours of community work, and there will be special conditions for her to undertake treatment and counselling.

Justice Whata made no order for emotional harm reparations but said he hoped the woman would go ahead with her offer to pay some of her savings to the family anyway.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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