Message service Snapchat was used by a then 25-year-old Waimate man to send explicit photos to an 11-year-old girl, the Timaru District Court heard on Tuesday. (File photo)
A Waimate man has been registered as a child sex offender after admitting sending indecent photos to an 11-year-old girl.
Tyrone Gosling, 26, heard Judge Tom Gilbert say he considered the offending a “reasonably serious act” as he sentenced him to six months’ community detention and 12 months’ supervision on a charge of exposing a young person to an indecent act in the Timaru District Court on Tuesday.
Because a jail term was not imposed, to make registration mandatory, Judge Gilbert exercised his discretion to do so because of the act, the fact it was only about nine months ago and the “very substantial age gap” between the two.
“I consider you do pose a risk to the sexual safety of a specific class of children, females perhaps from the age of 10 years and upwards,” Judge Gilbert said.
Defense lawyer Paul Norcross had submitted that Gosling was unaware of how old the girl was when a conversation was started on Snapchat over January 2-3, 2022.
Discussion on that age awareness issue led to an adjournment mid-sentencing, with Norcross saying when it resumed that Gosling wasn’t aware of who he was messaging.
Judge Gilbert said “it is a lie” and added “you can’t mistake an 11-year-old for someone over 16”.
“He had to know she was much, much younger,” Judge Gilbert told Norcross.
Reading from the summary of facts, Judge Gilbert said that the defendant had initiated the conversation and sent a friend request.
The victim had sent a face photo so Gosling “knew who you were communicating with”.
The girl then received three emojis “that were of concern to her” and as a result she began screen recording the conversations which Gosling was unaware of and continued the chat.
There was talk of masturbating and requests to show her underwear along with the girl being asked to change her name on her phone to disguise who she was chatting with.
At 12.15am, Gosling then sent three indecent photos of his genitals and asked “what do you think?”
Gosling’s indecent conversation had one more inappropriate message before the girl blocked him.
Judge Gilbert explained an important part of the sentencing was whether Gosling knew the girl’s age, because the offense can be committed when not legitimately knowing who the person is.
“It turns out you clearly did know that (her age), maybe not her exact age, but she was an 11-year-old, effectively a girl still.
“It cannot have been the case that you thought she was 16 or over. Even at 16 it still would have been extremely inappropriate given the age discrepancy.
“I am satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that you knew that she was much, much too young for this kind of material, nevertheless you proceeded.”
Judge Gilbert said the three victim impact statements demonstrated the substantial impact the event had on the young girl and her wider family.
Judge Gilbert said a term of imprisonment was the normal starting point for this type of offending, but that he stepped back from that to allow Gosling to retain an ability to continue working which was important for his mental health.
The six months’ community detention comes with an 8pm-6am curfew, while the supervision means he must attend assessments for various Stop programs and complete them as directed by probation staff. Gosling was also issued with a non-association order for the complainant and a non-contact order for females aged 10-16 years.