2015 NSPC 66

In 2015 NSPC 66, a young man was found guilty of extortion, possession of child pornography and possession of child pornography for distribution after inducing a teenage girl, Ms. A, to send him nude photographs online. The case is unique because it involved an unknown accomplice, Mr. Z, who Mr. Y allowed to remotely log into his computer to engage with Ms. A. Mr. Y befriended Mr. Z while playing Habbo, an online game, when he was 11 or 12 years old. Both young men were involved in sending deceptive messages to Ms. A from several fake Facebook accounts.

Mr. Y and Mr. Z’s online scam had serious real-world consequences. When the young men decided to “kill off” one of their shared fake online personas, someone Ms. A considered a good friend, both Ms. A and her friend Ms. B were so distraught about the alleged death that they tried to kill themselves. Both girls were hospitalized. When Ms. A figured out that she had been catfished, she asked to know who her online friend really was. Mr. Y said he would tell her only if she sent over a picture of her breasts, which she later did. Mr. Z threatened to share the image unless they got more nude content and when A did not send more images, Mr. Z posted that image to her Facebook account and sent it to several people.

The Court describes Mr. Y’s offences as ones which “exploited the murky opportunities afforded by internet anonymity.”[1] The court found that even though Mr. Z may have penned many of the messages that would count as extortion and the distribution of child pornography, Mr. Y aided him by opening up the fake accounts, allowing Mr. Z remote access to his computer to use the fake accounts, and watching Y post harmful messages without stopping him. Mr. Y was to defend his actions but the judge stated:

“A” sent the “selfies” of her breasts to the L.W. account being controlled, unbeknownst to her, by “Y” and “Z”. This falls well outside what is required for the “private use” defence I discussed earlier. These were not photographs that were obtained on the basis of informed consent and kept privately for private use, rendering “the potential for its harmful use by others minimal.” (Sharpe, paragraph 105) They were obtained through deceit and misrepresentation and shared by “Y” and whomever “Z” may be. Applying the “private use” defence on the facts of this case would be a distortion of the constitutional protection extended to expressive conduct which underpins the defence.[2]

The crimes were considered “violent offences” for sentencing purposes, and the Court recognized that Mr. Y endangered the life or safety of Ms. A by creating a substantial likelihood of causing psychological harm.”[3] However, noting that Mr. Y’s “precarious mental health, social dysfunction and isolation” contributed to his actions, the Court ultimately convicted Mr. Y of extortion, possession of child pornography, and the possession of child pornography with the intent to distribute it, and sentenced him to a two-year conditional discharge with strict internet restrictions.[4]

Also see: 2015 NSPC 19 (Application for a psycho-sexual assessment); 2015 NSPC 14 (Trial)

[1] 2015 NSPC 14 at 2.
[2] 2013 NSPC 98 at para 45.
[3] 2015 NSPC 14 at 53.
[4] 2015 NSPC 14 at 55.


Criminal Offence(s): Extortion