Teens to face child abuse charges over shock bashing video
TWO teenagers who allegedly filmed the brutal assault of a Cairns schoolgirl and posted it on social media will face child exploitation charges after a judge's landmark decision.
In what is believed to be the first legal test of this type of offending, Judge Dean Morzone found the charges originally laid against the 13-year-old boy and 16-year-old girl - production and distribution of child exploitation material - were appropriate.
Their lawyers argued in the Cairns District Court last month that, if the pair were found guilty, the outcome would be absurd as they would become classed as reportable offenders.
But Judge Morzone said he found the definition of child exploitation material to include material in sexual contexts and non-sexual violent contexts.
"I do not accept that it would result in a manifestly absurd or unreasonable outcome or produce injustice or some intolerable anomaly," he said.
Judge Morzone said the wording was "plain and unambiguous" and did not relate only to a sexual context.
"I find the footage categorised as child exploitation material," he said.
"Each applicant has a case to answer and I dismiss their applications."
The shocking footage of the 15-year-old girl allegedly being attacked and robbed on Bicentennial Rd at Bentley Park was posted on Instagram before going viral and being shown by multiple media outlets.
The court heard yesterday both of the teens had entered guilty pleas to robbery with violence but were yet to enter pleas to the child exploitation offences. If found guilty and classified as reportable offenders the teens would legally have to tell police of their whereabouts and other personal details for a period of time after their release.
Judge Morzone said defence barristers Rochelle Logan and Stephanie Williams had argued the video footage was not child sexual abuse and the result would be manifestly absurd or unreasonable.
"The (Crown) opposed the application on the grounds the applicants misconstrued the definition and the video is capable of being child exploitation material within the plain and clear meaning of the definition with consequences that are neither absurd or unreasonable," he said. "They further argue that any disputed factual matters ought to be left to the jury for determination."
The case was adjourned until October 12.
Originally published as Teens to face child abuse charges over shock bashing video