September 2017

Judge warns of online ‘sexting’ dangers as man walks free for inciting a child on Facebook

A judge has warned about the dangers of teenagers ‘sexting’ on social media.

Judge Stephen Earl spoke of the perils of online communications after an 18-year-old tried to get a schoolgirl to meet him for sex.

Kieran Doran tried to persuade the 14-year-old girl to take a day off school to spend time with him and told her to lie to family and friends as they chatted on Facebook.

The girl did not agree to meet him and there was no physical contact between them.

Doran pleaded guilty to inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and was given a suspended prison sentence.

During the hearing at Newcastle Crown Court, Judge Earl said: “It is a decidedly difficult problem, dealing with relatively young people for what is euphemistically called sexting.

“There is a complete misunderstanding about what social media can or should contain.

“We are increasingly seeing cases before the courts of young, inexperienced people, who feel it is appropriate to express views, that one might have done by nudging your friends, about what they think.”

The judge said the case highlights how some young people feel free to say almost anything over their computers, phones and laptops, without thinking about the consequences.

He added: “This sort of behaviour is very dangerous, particularly when it crosses age barriers, as this case does.”

The judge said Doran had considered his behaviour to be “just a bit of fun” over the internet and that other young people must be cautious of making the same mistake.

Prosecutor Paul Currer told the court: “He was persistent, clearly making a determined effort to arrange a meeting.”

Doran, of Marlborough Road, Washington, admitted inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and was given 12 months suspended for two years, with rehabilitation and programme requirements. He must also sign the sex offenders register for ten years.

Andrew Walker, defending, said Doran, who is a father of two, will be restricted and monitored as a result of his behaviour.