A 16-year-old Perth boy who encouraged girls to perform sex acts on a webcam then posted them on Facebook did not know it was illegal, his lawyer says.
The teenager was due to be sentenced in the Perth Children’s Court on Monday but Judge Denis Reynolds adjourned the matter to consider whether or not to send the boy into detention for his crime.
The boy, who cannot be identified because of his age, pleaded guilty to several child exploitation offences committed between October 17, 2010, and January 24, 2011.
The charges include encouraging a child over the age of 13 and under the age of 16 to do an indecent act, attempting to procure a child aged over 13 and under 16 to do an indecent act, and distributing child exploitation material, namely a digital file.
The court heard on Monday that the boy created a Facebook account in the name of a known bully and used the account to threaten the girls into exposing themselves and performing sex acts on a webcam, which he then posted on Facebook for their friends to see.
The boy’s lawyer, Annie O’Neill, told the court her client knew his actions were wrong based on his Baha’i faith, but did not know it was illegal.
Ms O’Neill said it was “horrifying” how easy it was for young people to gain access to pornographic material online at a time when they were just beginning to explore their sexuality.
“My client is still very young indeed,” she said.
Ms O’Neill said her client took “full responsibility” for his actions and was remorseful, especially because he had been bullied in the past and knew what it felt like.
He also had the support of his Iranian migrant parents, who were ashamed and embarrassed by their son’s behaviour and took immediate steps to ground him and ban him from using the computer, Ms O’Neill said.
The boy’s mother wept in court while he sat quietly with his head down during proceedings.
Judge Reynolds said the matter needed “careful consideration” and adjourned the matter to May 27.