Matthew James Carter, who told police he was not a pedophile and had only acted out of boredom, will find out next week how many years he will spend in jail for internet child luring.
The 34-year-old Corner Brook man was arrested in February 2017 after police in Newfoundland and Labrador were notified by investigators in the United Kingdom of complaints related to social media communications between someone in Corner Brook and young girls in England.
The subsequent investigation uncovered numerous messages between Carter and four girls between the ages of 11 and 14, including one girl later found to be cognitively delayed.
In late November, Carter pleaded guilty to two offences, including unlawfully luring a child under the age of 16 via a computer system and unlawfully transmitting sexually explicit material to a child under the age of 16.
When he appeared in provincial court in Corner Brook via video from jail Friday, Carter entered more guilty pleas to four more charges, including three more internet luring offences and one count of distributing or selling child pornography.
When Crown attorney Adam Sparkes read an agreed statement of facts into the record, the court heard that some of the communications involved explicit language in which Carter graphically talked about having sex with the victims. He also forwarded photos and videos of his genitalia and requested the same from some of the victims.
Within the messages, Carter indicated a sexual preference for girls around the ages of those he was chatting with in relation to these charges.
The oldest girl, who the court heard was at a cognitive level four years below her age of 14, was the only one who reciprocated and sent Carter explicit images of herself performing sexual acts.
The investigation, which included forensic analysis of data on Carter’s digital devices after his arrest, indicated he had shared these pornographic images of the 14-year-old girl with another person.
Carter did not hide the fact he was in his early 30s when talking to these girls and told one of them he lived in Canada. One of the girls involved immediately told Carter to not to have any further contact with him, but he persisted.
A second victim immediately told her parents about the communication she had received from the older man. Her concerned parents, the court heard, took over their daughter’s account and took screen grabs of the messages Carter had thought he was sending only to the girl.
Those were forwarded to the police as part of the investigation.
Sparkes asked Judge Wayne Gorman to hand Carter a period of imprisonment in the range of four to five years. He noted the fact he aggressively pursued one girl who told him not to have any communications with her and that another of his victims has special needs were aggravating factors.
Carter’s lawyer, Sandi MacKinnon, asked for three years in prison. She emphasized that Carter did not know one of the girls had cognitive issues, let alone target her because of that.
She described some of the issues that affected Carter’s upbringing, including being abandoned by his birth parents to be brought up by his grandparents and how he turned to drugs and alcohol as a way to feel accepted socially.
She said he admits to being obsessed by pornography, but was just seeking attention when chatting with these young girls online.
MacKinnon said Carter realizes these are his own problems, and not excuses, and that he takes full responsibility for his actions.
She also explained that Carter had difficulty accepting the definition of luring, as he never had any intention whatsoever of trying to meet up with any of these victims or follow through with any of the things he said he wanted to do with them. She acknowledged that the Criminal Code of Canada’s definition of luring takes into consideration the vulnerability of young people to being exposed to further victimization by others with more sinister intentions.
When given the opportunity to address the court in his own words, Carter apologized for what he did, saying he realized there are consequences for his actions and and that he hopes to spend his time in prison bettering himself as a person.
“I can’t say how much I’m sorry,” he said.
Gorman said he would like some time to consider the submissions from the Crown and defence, along with what Carter had to say, and will make his decision on the length of sentence Wednesday.
He advised that, while the mandatory minimum sentences for the serious crimes committed by Carter would end up within the range suggested by the Crown, he may consider a sentence outside that range.
Carter has been in custody since his arrest in late February 2017, with the exception of about a month last summer. He had been released on bail July 28, but was arrested again for breaching the conditions of his release Aug. 25 and has been in custody ever since.
He has served a 30-day jail term for the court order breach since being taken back into custody and would not get any credit for that time served when he is sentenced for these most recent convictions.