Could teens who filmed fight face child exploitation case?

TWO teenagers who allegedly filmed the violent assault of a girl beside a busy Cairns road then posted it on social media could potentially become reportable offenders if the child exploitation charges they face hold up in court.

In what is understood to be a landmark test of Queensland legislation, police and prosecutors have argued the actions of the pair - a 13-year-old boy and 16-year-old girl - fall under the same laws as child pornography offenders.

They allegedly posted the shocking footage of a 15-year-old girl being attacked and robbed by a mob on Bicentennial Road in February on Instagram, before the footage went viral after being shown by multiple media outlets.

 

The boy was charged with producing and distributing child exploitation material, while the girl faces a distribution charge.

Defence barristers for the pair Rochelle Logan and Steph­anie Williams argued in a pre-trial hearing the charges were not appropriate because the end result if they were found guilty was "absurd".

The Cairns District Court heard, along with being classified as reportable offenders if found guilty, there may also be long-term impacts such as ineligibility for items such as Blue Cards.

"(The alleged offending) wasn't to obtain the type of exploitation material that (legislation) would warrant," Ms Logan said.

But Judge Dean Morzone challenged their interpretation and said the legislation applied to both sexual and "other" offensive material.

"Why isn't it OK for someone who throws this material around in relation to children to be a reportable offender?" he said. "Why is it absurd?"

If 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.

Crown prosecutor Nathan Crane said this type of offending was clearly not captured when the legislation went through parliament in 2004, but was designed to change with technology.

"It is, in my submission, gratuitous violence, forceful punches, forceful kicks, a number (of youths) coming in to take their turn, all the while a number of people are filming and (those offenders) are aware of the cameras filming," Mr Crane said.

"There was a degree of mirth within the group. Then it was uploaded.

"It can be seen by both the defendant's peer group and the victim's peer group and she's on the ground screaming."

Judge Morzone will hand down his decision in the coming weeks.

Originally published as Could teens who filmed fight face child exploitation case?


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