Public prosecutors have requested that 23-year-old Mark Webber should go to jail for threatening to post a sexually explicit video of a young woman on the social media site Facebook unless she sent him nude photos of herself – and did this within two days of his asking her, when she did not do so.
Prosecutor Lee told the presiding judge that Webber also posted the explicit video to a pornographic website which caused severe psychological harm to the victim, and distress to her family.
The prosecutor told the public outside the court that this case was like the 2012 Amanda Todd case where Todd committed suicide after Cyber-bullied.
Lee asked Judge Steven Merrick that the case merited exemplary punishment and that Webber should be sent to prison for nine months so that potential perpetrators get a strong message that such actions are criminal and unacceptable in society.
Like minded persons who have a desire to do similar acts should get a strong message that use of social media to threaten, extort or put at risk vulnerable people is a crime and they will be severely dealt with by the courts of the land. The prosecutor told the court that Webber – who did not have a relationship with the victim – found the explicit video on a cellphone belonging to the victim's boyfriend after that phone went missing. Webber tracked the young woman on Facebook using a fake identity and told her of his having her video then made the demands for her nude photos, which she did not respond to, leading to the posting of the video on the Internet.
Police traced Webber down after a painstaking search of over a year and in May 2013 searched his lodgings in the basement of his parents house, and seized his computer. On questioning Webber gave a lengthy statement to the police in which he confessed his actions.
Lee told the court that Webber's crime had caused severe psychological harm, and under new laws he was not eligible for conditional sentencing that allowed him to serve a jail sentence in the community.
Webber's defense lawyer Michael Mines asked the judge to hand down a suspended sentence, on the grounds that Webber was 20 years old at the time of the offence, depressed and socially isolated, and spent his time playing video games all day. He also said that Webber has no criminal record and his actions were completely out of character as he was socially a different person today than he was when he committed the offence, and was very remorseful for his actions, and that due to the cases like Todd's Webber had a better understanding of "the effects of sexual cyber bullying”.
Webber offered an apology to his victim in the court to atone for his crime whose identity was not revealed as it has protection under a publication ban saying that knowing the effects of his actions made his heart sink to think of what I've done to the victim, he knew what he did was very wrong.
The court later sentenced Webber to 60 days of prison, and hoped this would send a strong message to others who were thinking of similar actions.