A SEX predator pressured a 13-year-old boy he met on Facebook into taking and texting a naked photo of himself.
Details of the man’s attempts to “groom” the boy for sex emerged during a hearing in Warrnambool County Court yesterday.
Aidan Leslie Lewis, 26, of Findlay Street, Portland, pleaded guilty to using a communications service to groom a person aged under 16 years for sexual activity, using a communications service to have child pornography sent to him and two counts of accessing child pornography. He will be sentenced next week.
Judge Bill Stuart said the case was a classic example of the type of grooming new legislation aimed to address. The offences were uncovered when the victim’s mother found a naked photo on her son’s phone. In a victim impact statement she said it was horrific to find her son had been the victim of such a predator.
The boy said he had been through emotional trauma, felt embarrassed and humiliated and his parents now had a hard time trusting him.
Police alleged that on May 25 last year the accused made contact with the teenager using the false account name of Aiden Ryan and began sending private messages through the popular internet social networking site.
Those messages were exchanged for three days before the defendant asked for and obtained the victim’s mobile telephone number.
Between May 28 and May 30, 228 text messages and two phone calls were exchanged.
Lewis told the victim he wanted to chat on the phone and get to know him better while inquiring about his hobbies, whether he lived with his parents and his sexual preferences and practises.
The defendant told the victim he had been hurt by younger guys and when assured by the victim he would not do so, Lewis said that was what the last guy said and that the experience had really hurt him.
He told the boy he had been used, lent money to people and now found it hard to trust anyone, although he said the victim seemed different.
Lewis told him he knew he was younger but it was hard to find the right people, saying he had mates who dated boys “heaps younger”.
He also told the victim he would like to take him out on a date, see a movie, have dinner and then hug and kiss him, saying he was a babe, spunk, a hottie, he had a cute smile and sounded hot on the phone.
The court heard that via the text messages Lewis repeatedly asked for explicit photos of the victim but when the boy became cautious Lewis turned the situation to his advantage and made it a trust issue. When the victim replied he may not have enough credit on his phone, Lewis transferred $5 to it.
The following day he again repeatedly asked for a “hot pic with pants off”. The victim took a photo of his genitals on his mobile phone and sent it to Lewis.
On August 11 police executed a search warrant at Lewis’ home and seized a mobile phone and three computers.
A forensic examination of the computers revealed 51 images and nine videos with the images ranking up to the most sexually explicit category. Most of the material was of child exploitation.
In an interview with police Lewis admitted there was probably child pornography on his computers and that he used a false Facebook account, but he couldn’t recall conversations with the victim or asking him to send photos.
Lewis answered “no comment” when it was put to him that his communications with the victim were as if he was developing a relationship, and when details of text messages suggesting they meet were read to him.
He told police he thought the victim was 16 years old and he didn’t know it was illegal to get someone to send an explicit photo.
Yesterday’s hearing was adjourned part-heard with Lewis expected to be