A Whangarei man has been jailed for blackmailing a 14-year-old girl into sending him naked pictures over Facebook.
Social media addict Jacob Kirby-Parker was 24 when he blackmailed the teenager into sending him nude photos over many months and even asked her to be his girlfriend.
Whenever the girl blocked him from her Facebook page, he would pester her to unblock him or he threatened he would post nude photos of her online. Kirby-Parker's behaviour only stopped after the girl told someone in authority and the matter was reported to police. He earlier pleaded guilty in Whangarei District Court to charges of blackmail and exposure of young person to indecency and requested a non-custodial sentence.
Judge John McDonald rejected his plea when he appeared for sentencing yesterday and jailed him for 19 months, saying once nude photos were online there was nothing to stop others from downloading them.
"She's scared it would happen again. She states she's getting bullied in school and regrets ever meeting you online," Judge McDonald said.
"Social media can be as intense as the old-fashioned way of meeting people in person. These days people can meet at the drop of a hat and the underlying threats in this case were very real. She did something you didn't like, you blackmailed her. She was vulnerable."
Kirby-Parker's sentencing followed a call by cyber safety expert John Parsons last week for parents to know their kids' activities online. The call came after a Northland student's Facebook account was hacked by an imposter who made lewd requests to the student's friends.
In court yesterday, Judge McDonald said in July 2015 Kirby-Parker and the teenage girl began conversing regularly on Facebook and Snapchat.
He declared his feelings for her and requested her to send nude photos but she declined. He told her if she did not send him nude photos he would tell police about a fight she had been involved in. She caved in and sent a naked photo of herself in her bedroom.
He asked her to be his girlfriend and requested they meet but she told him he was too old her her. When she refused to send a second nude photo, he told her if she didn't he would post the first photo on Facebook. She again obliged.
At one stage when she told him about her boyfriend, Kirby-Parker got angry and told her to break off the relationship or he would post her nude photos online. Kirby-Parker also sent photographs of his genitalia to her on Facebook and Snapchat. He told police he felt he and the girl were in a relationship.
Chris Hails from NetSafe said it was important for parents to be open and communicative with their children when it came to the use of social media tools.
"Young people do not have a full understanding of the risks involved so people should make sure they take an interest in what their children are up to," he said.
- For more on cyber bullying: www.netsafe.org.nz or call 0508 NETSAFE.