Merritt man sentenced to six months in jail for attempting to lure his young stepsister online for sex

6 months jail for child luring

A Merritt-area man who tried to lure his young stepsister online for sex has been ordered to spend six months behind bars, but he won’t have restrictions placed on his internet access once he gets out.

The 27-year-old man cannot be named under a court-ordered publication ban put in place to protect the identity of his victim.

Court heard he was 25 on July 1, 2018, when an inadvertent Facebook friend request turned into an inappropriate and illegal online chat with his stepsister, who was then 15 years old.

The two had a problematic past. Court heard the man had engaged in “inappropriate sexual activity” with the girl when she was between three and seven and he was between 12 and 16.

They had no contact for a period of years prior to the 2018 Facebook conversation.

In the conversation, court heard, the man called the girl his “soulmate,” complimented her looks and said he wanted to have sex with her.

The girl was described in court as “emotionally fragile” and “frail and vulnerable.” In a victim-impact statement, she said she has experienced anxiety, trouble sleeping and depression since the incident.

Crown prosecutor Frank Caputo said the man wanted a physical interaction to take place.

“There is a very real likelihood that the offence could have come to fruition,” he said.

Caputo sought a sentence of 12 to 24 months in prison followed by a lengthy probation term. Defence lawyer Eric Rines, meanwhile, suggested house arrest.

Rines also asked B.C. Supreme Court Justice Heather MacNaughton to stop short of prohibiting the man from accessing the internet as part of his probation.

“With COVID now, half the things we do involve making submissions on the internet,” he said.

“Restricting that access in this day and age is incredibly prohibitive. It’s not a condition the courts should impose lightly and it’s not one that’s necessary in these circumstances.”

Rines pointed out the man’s strict bail terms have included an internet ban, with which he has complied.

A psychiatric report showed the man is a low risk to reoffend sexually. The man was described as having a somewhat troubled upbringing and falling victim to sexual abuse himself at a young age.

MacNaughton ordered the man spend six months in prison and a further 18 months on probation, but she did not restrict his internet access.

“Your conduct was not predatory and did not involve the use of the internet for [finding and reaching out to the girl],” she said.

Probation terms will bar the man from contacting or being within 100 metres of the girl. He will also be required to submit a sample of his DNA to a national criminal database and register as a sex offender for 20 years.

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