When it comes to extortion, the ubiquitous nature of social media has made it a more serious crime these days.
That was the message Judge Wayne Gorman emphasized while sentencing Kyle Stephen Hunt of Meadows to nine months in prison Friday.
Hunt, 22, was charged with extortion. The offence involved a threat to post nude photos he had in his possession on Facebook.
While Crown attorney Trina Simms asked for a six-month sentence, Gorman indicated he wanted more time to think about what the sentence should be since the use of social media was involved in the threat.
In a written decision on the case Friday, Gorman said the circumstances and sentencing precedents call for a sentence of a year in prison. However, he decided on nine months because Hunt had no prior convictions and his prospects for rehabilitation were considered good.
Gorman said access to social media sites has dramatically changed the potential impact of extortion.
“A present day threat to release intimate photographs through social media sites allows for the sharing and dissemination of such photographs on a worldwide basis,” wrote the judge. “This technology also makes it impossible for the victim to limit circulation or to retrieve the photographs. This modern day form of extortion is much different and more serious than older forms of extortion.”
Gorman went on to say that sentences for extortion involving social media have to reflect the far-reaching changes in how information is now shared.
In a victim impact statement provided to the court, the woman involved said the emotional impact of the threatening situation she found herself in was substantial and that her mental health deteriorated because of it.
Despite the length of the sentence, Hunt will only have to serve one more month in prison. That’s because he has been in custody since June 30 and it is standard to give him credit for 1.5 days for every one day he has served prior to being sentenced.
After his release, Hunt will be bound by a probation order for two years. The conditions of the probation order include him staying away from any locations the victim might be and to refrain from accessing her Facebook profile or making any reference to her in any social media posting made by him.
He must also provide a sample of his DNA to authorities.
Hunt is not finished with the courts. He will be back in provincial court for a trial next month.
There are 15 charges against Hunt set for trial Jan. 18-19, including three for sexual assault involving another woman. The charges also include uttering a threat against a third woman and a series of court order breaches.