A judge has delayed sentencing because he believes that exchanges of sex-texts cannot amount to the offence of "doing indecent acts" with girls.
Judge Michael Crosbie put off the Christchurch District Court sentencing of Ricky Dean Walker to March 28, for legal argument on the issue between the Crown and defence counsel Craig Ruane.
Walker, a 35-year-old Taihape man, had admitted six charges of sending lewd and explicit sexual cellphone texts to five girls aged between 11 and 13 years.
The girls were all friends at the same school.
In one case, he and a 12-year-old exchanged 338 messages.
Walker told the police he thought the girls were 18-year-olds by the way they were talking.
But when the sentencing began, Judge Crosbie said he believed that exchanges of texts could not contain the ingredients of the charges under the Crimes Act.
There was no physical proximity between the offender and the victim.
There was no contact, no threats, no invitation, and no sexual grooming which might involve arranging the meet the girls.
"At best, it seems to be a Telecommunications Act offence," said the judge.
The Crown was seeking imprisonment for Walker, while Ruane was going to argue for a community work sentence.
The consequences for Walker would also involve a first-strike warning under the Government's system that imposes heavier penalties on repeat violent or sexual offenders.
Judge Crosbie placed the onus on the Crown to substantiate the choice of charge in this case, but he also suggested that the Crown and defence could discuss the issue and agree on the appropriate charges.
That could mean that Walker will be sentenced on March 28, because a pre-sentence report has already been prepared.
He remains on bail in the meantime.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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