Kiwi teenager targeted after online posts

By Kathryn Powley

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

Police say a Raglan teen who posted distasteful pictures of a Canadian girl who committed suicide is not one of the bullies who prompted her death, but his actions are a warning for computer users.

Police closed down Corey Hartstone's Facebook page after a storm of vitriol and hate was directed at the 17-year-old.

They described his postings, which related to the death of Canadian Amanda Todd, as "inappropriate and disturbing". The pictures went up after Todd's October 10 suicide, which has been blamed on cyber bullying.

About a month before the 15-year-old died she had posted a video of herself online in which she revealed a man had circulated an image of her breasts on the internet.

Ironically, many of those reacting to Hartstone's posts, some of whom made death threats, were opposed to cyber bullying.

Police here were clear that Hartstone was not connected to Todd's suicide and that his posts were made after her death. But that hasn't stopped numerous Facebook users from accusing him of being responsible.

One thread urged those outraged to contact Hartstone's former school. Raglan Area School principal Malcolm Fox said some emails had been sent to the school as a result, and they'd forwarded those to the police.

He confirmed Hartstone was a former pupil, but declined to comment further. Hartstone's family also declined to comment.

A former school friend said Hartstone was a quiet person who spent a lot of time on his computer. But police have ensured that is now off-limits.

Detective Senior Sergeant John Michael, officer in charge of specialist police team Online Child Exploitation Across New Zealand (OCEANZ), said police had received more than 20 complaints from New Zealand and overseas in relation to "inappropriate and disturbing images" of Todd.

"These images had been posted by a 17-year-old male from Raglan, Waikato. The OCEANZ team was quick to deal with these complaints and as a result, Waikato police staff made contact with the 17-year-old male and his family."

Police had removed the images, shut down the Facebook profile and taken steps to minimise further reproduction of the images.

"Police are continuing to liaise with this individual and his family, who are assisting us with our investigations."

He said it was a reminder that once images went on to the internet "all control of them is quickly lost".

- Herald on Sunday

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