Judge tells man who sent inappropriate messages to ‘get a job’

By Catherine Hutton, Open Justice reporter of

A phone, showing the Snapchat logo.

A young man who sent inappropriate Snapchat messages to two under age girls he knew has been told by a judge to “get a job and do some work on yourself.”

William Johnstone, 26, was unable to explain to the judge when he recently appeared in the Wellington District Court why he sent the inappropriate messages other than to say it was a stupid decision and “his brain told him to do it”.

But, Judge Nicola Wills wasn’t buying it.

“It wasn’t just one decision it was a series of decisions. You sent a photo, then a video, then another video, then another video,” she said.

The court heard Johnstone originally sent a message to a 12-year-old’s Snapchat account.

Her 14-year-old friend, who was using the account, asked why he was making the request. He told the girl it was to make friends and the older girl then sent a picture of her face, making clear it wasn’t the younger girl who was responding.

Johnstone then sent the photo and videos. The court heard he’d also tried to connect with one of the girls a year earlier.

Victim impact statements read to the court describe how the 12-year-old felt her innocence had been stripped, saying he had pretended he didn’t know what he was doing, when he did. The second girl described how she was struggling to see her friends and socialise and had now left school.

Police prosecutor Lydia McIvor said Johnstone’s offending involved a breach of trust as he knew his victims.

Johnstone’s lawyer Curtis Fatiaki said his client had no previous convictions, was remorseful and had lost his current job as a result of the charges.

Judge Wills said Johnstone’s regret was not sufficient and he owed his victims more than that.

“You’ve been unable to adequately explain your actions to probation or through counsel to me today. Other than to say that is a one-off and deeply regretted and might be related to your cannabis use for anxiety.”

Judge Wills told Johnstone he needed to be held to account for what he’d done.

“But actually, you need to get a job and you need to do some work on yourself and figure out why an earth you did that to make sure you never do it again,” Judge Wills said.

On the charge of intentional exposure of indecent material to someone under the age of 16, Johnstone was convicted and sentenced to six months’ community detention. He was subject to a curfew, ordered to undertake counselling and not to contact his victims without prior approval of his probation officer.

* This story originally appeared in the New Zealand Herald.

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According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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