A Canberra teenager has been jailed for nine months for playing a key role in a scam that targeted users of gay dating site Grindr, and led to a man taking his own life.
The boy is the fifth person to plead guilty to a part in the crime, with the ringleader also jailed earlier this year.
The scam involved targeting men on the site by luring them to a meeting, where they threatened to label them as paedophiles if they did not give them money.
The ACT Children’s Court heard the 17-year-old acknowledged his responsibility and was racked with guilt.
His lawyer Rachel Bird told the court he admitted his motive was to make money, but he did not foresee what happened, and deeply regretted the impact it had on other people’s lives.
But prosecutor Sarah Gul told the court he was the most closely involved of anyone in luring the victim, and it was premeditated.
“It’s sophisticated conduct,” she said.
Ms Gul said when the first amount of $400 was not enough, he went with his friends to the man’s home seeking more.
A statement from the mother of the victim was read to the court expressing her profound grief.
She said that earlier in that week he had been happy and looking forward to the future.
His mother said he was a drag queen, who was very proud of his costumes and performances and also noted he was a successful public servant.
“He must have been so distraught and in such fear,” she said.
‘You were the bait’
Chief Magistrate Lorraine Walker told the boy he had actively sought to join the scam, by asking the organisers to let him in.
“It was at your request that you took part in this process,” she said.
“You targeted a vulnerable person motivated, by your own admission, by greed.
“You were the bait and you threatened to expose him. The enthusiasm with which you joined the group is concerning.”
Ms Walker also noted the boy had sought to justify his actions by linking homosexuality with paedophilia.
“They are entirely different things, they are entirely different,” she said.
She accepted he was not the ringleader but was an active participant and still demonstrated a lack of insight.
His mother cried and the boy sat with his arms folded and head bowed as he was sentenced to nine months in jail.
Once released, he will also serve a 12-month good behaviour order.