‘Talk to your kids’: This court case should worry parents
LEGAL experts and police have warned a landmark court case linked to the filming of a violent bashing of a Cairns schoolgirl on a mobile phone should trigger alarm bells for parents across the state.
A 17-year-old girl, the ringleader of the horrific attack on the 15-year-old girl in Bentley Park last year, was sentenced for possessing child exploitation material in the Cairns District Court on Wednesday after the footage of her shocking actions was found on her phone.
This marked the first time in Queensland police had chosen to lay a child exploitation charge in relation to violence, rather than child pornography.
A 14-year-old boy accused of filming the melee is due to face trial next month for both the production and possession of the material - a charge which in an adult court would carry a maximum sentence of up to 25 years jail.
A detective working on the case even revealed in court during a pre-trial argument on Wednesday he had never used the CEM charge in that way and it only came about after discussions with colleagues while viewing the footage.
"We read the criminal code, the definition of CEM," Det Sen-Constable Clinton Stewart told the court.
Speaking outside court, Cairns police Child Protection and Investigation Unit boss Sen-Sgt Mick Gooiker said they only planned to use these type of charges for "more serious matters" but parents and children needed to realise the potential dire consequences of improper mobile phone use.
"We're asking parents to talk to kids about the ramifications of doing things like this," he said. "And obviously how these types of videos are posted in the public domain are incredibly traumatic to the victim. We certainly have the scope to use these charges again."
The girl sentenced on Thursday, who cannot be named due to her age, was handed a six-month good behaviour bond and no conviction recorded.
But former Queensland Law Society president Bill Potts said future offenders could face serious punishment including court orders, or children even being ruled as reportable offenders.
He said schools needed to begin warning children, more publicity was needed, but most importantly, parents need to "make children understand the risky behaviour".
"Kids need to understand a picture is not just worth 1000 words, but it can actually become evidence in court," he said.
"Mobile phones and filming things open up a world of adventure, but they also open up a world of responsibility."
The trial for the 14-year-old boy is scheduled for April 12.
Several teens, including the 17-year-old, were sentenced over the robbery and assault last year.
Originally published as 'Talk to your kids': Why Cairns court case should scare parents