20-year-old Australian arraigned in first ’sexting’ case

Monday, November 1, 2010

SYDNEY - A 20-year-old man is at the centre of Australia’s first “sexting” case after a schoolgirl sent a nude photo of herself to his mobile phone, a media report said Monday.

Damien “Ezzy” Eades, from Sydney’s western suburbs, faces a maximum penality of two years in jail, The Age reported.

Back in March 2008, Eades, then 18, was working at a KFC outlet and was busy exchanging text messages with a 13-year-old girl with whom he had become friends.

The text messages by the pair - translated and spelling-enhanced for the court - read as follows:

Eades: “When am I going to get a picture. I send you one if you send me one a hot steamy one.”

The girl replied: “OK well when I get home I take one Hey did you get the one I sent the other day.”

Eades then sent a photo of himself naked from the waist up, asking: “You like?”

Girl: “Yes, yes I do like so I only got to send one of top half sorry for the slow reply but I’m in the shower.”

Eades: “Send whatever you want bottom even better.”

Girl: “But do I get one?”

Eades: “Yes not while I’m at work though.”

The girl then says she has taken about four and doesn’t know what to send.

Eades says to send the best. “Your choice,” he texts.

She then sent a full frontal photograph of herself naked which she had taken holding her mobile in her hand.

When the girl’s father checked her mobile phone, he went to the police. Eades was charged with incitement of a person under 16 to commit an act of indecency towards him. He was also charged with possession of child pornography.

When the matter came before Magistrate Daniel Reiss at Penrith local court in March last year, the magistrate dismissed both charges.

Reiss said that the photo itself was not indecent and that he was not able to take into account the background context of the text messages which he noted did suggest “a sexual aspect behind his request”.

The magistrate also said there was no evidence that the relationship ever progressed beyond friendship.

The director of public prosecutions appealed over the “act of indecency” charge, the penalty for which is up to two years in jail.

Justice Greg James of the Supreme Court ruled that the magistrate had erred and should have taken into account the sexual nature of the text messages, Eades’s intention, as well as the age difference between him and the girl.

Justice James referred the matter back to the local court to be heard again. Eades’s legal team appealed. Last month the NSW court of appeal dismissed Eades’s appeal and ordered him to pay costs.

The matter will go back to the local court for a fresh hearing.

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