A man who pretended to be a teenage boy on social media and asked a 13-year-old girl to send him photographs of herself after a bath has been sentenced to 16 months in a West Australian prison.
Shane Philip Harris, 41, was caught after a Queensland mother told police her daughter was communicating via Instagram and mobile phone text messages with someone who said they were a 15-year-old boy in Perth in October 2017.
There was no evidence the girl sent Harris any photos, the WA District Court heard on Oct. 17.
In April last year, police searched Harris’ Ellenbrook home, as well as a property he was house sitting in Forrestfield, seizing a hard drive and mobile phone, plus some SIM cards Harris had destroyed.
Harris told police he panicked when his sister said officers wanted to speak to him, then smashed his computer and phone.
He also admitted speaking to underage girls online and accessing sites, including one in Russia that was known as a source of child exploitation material.
The court heard Harris had thousands of images of girls and admitted he was in a cycle of collecting pictures, deleting them, then succumbing to temptation again.
Judge Hylton Quail said Harris deceived and exploited the teenage girl.
“You had developed this elaborate fiction and persona, which involved you engaging online in a deceitful and persistent way … intending to obtain child exploitation material,” he said.
“Real children are abused in the production of child exploitation material and each viewing for sexual purposes like yours is, in reality, another act of abuse.
“Those children, when they grow up, know that those images are on the internet forever.”
But Judge Quail accepted Harris did not intend to meet any children, was remorseful and had gained insight into his offending.
He also noted Harris had cooperated with police and taken steps towards rehabilitation.
Harris, who pleaded guilty to four charges, will be eligible for parole after serving eight months behind bars.