One of the first jail sentences to be handed down under relatively new Australia-wide revenge porn laws sends a powerful message to offenders and victims, an expert and an advocate say.
Queensland mum Robyn Night was left “living in fear” as dozens of random men turned up to her house expecting sex, or even rape, lured by fake profiles created by her former partner Ryan Kotynski.
His offending was eventually punished by stalking laws already in place at the time but the suffering encouraged Mrs Night, who was described online in shocking terms and had her face superimposed onto naked women, to campaign for revenge porn law reform.
“It gives me peace to hear that somebody has been jailed over revenge porn,” Mrs Night said.
“It feels good to know that me coming out and speaking about it so widely, to so many different people has made it so that people actually talk about it, and that they’re not scared.
“I still get girls contact me over it.”
She believed harsher penalties and better training for police and prosecutors are still needed but encouraged victims to make criminal complaints because for her, the closure was worth it.
As Mrs Night and many others campaigned for change over the second half of the 2010s, a patchwork quilt of state laws slowly emerged.
But Professor Nigel Phair, a technology expert from the University of New South Wales, said the 2018 addition of a line highlighting the increased severity of offences involving “private sexual material” to Commonwealth carriage service harassment laws was a major step.
He described the Adelaide-based foreign national’s two-month sentence as a “substantial” punishment, with nationwide ramifications.
“People shouldn’t underestimate spending a day in jail, let alone a couple of months in jail,” he said.
“Jail is for, and full of, hardened criminals.
“I think it’s a substantial sentence, which is a good thing because it puts a marker in the sand and when, hopefully, further matters go before the court, there’ll be some precedents and that’s what you want.”
The UNSW Canberra Cyber director said the federal laws provided a national precedent and made it easier to prosecute across state boundaries or even internationally.