R v Bevins [2019] NZDC 7407

Published 03 October 2019

Sentencing — causing harm by posting digital communications — attempting to cause harm by posting a digital communication — video — YouTube — Facebook — vigilante group — creep catchers — paedophiles — luring victims — Harmful Digital Communications Act 2015, s 22 — Crimes Act 1961, s 66 — Sentencing Act 2002, ss 8, 84 & 85 — Police v Tamihana [2016] NZDC 6749, [2016] DCR 240 — Police v Forester [2016] NZDC 16010 — Brittin v Police [2017] NZHC 2410, [2018] 2 NZLR 147 — Butler v Police [2017] NZHC 2972 — Police v Carr [2018] NZDC 15609 — R v Millar [2018] NZDC 16646 — R v Xie [2007] 2 NZLR 240 — R v O CA 258/05, 3 March 2006 — R v Williams CA91/00, 31 May 2000 — Hughes v R [2012] NZCA 388 — R v Mackwood CA197/95, 28 March 1996 — R v Bradley [1979] NZLR 262 — Benbow v Police HC Christchurch AP 107/93, 2 July 1993 — R v Douglas [2012] NZHC 2271 — R (SFO) v Robinson [2015] NZHC 1673. The defendant appeared for sentence in relation to five charges of causing harm by posting digital communications and one of attempting to cause harm by posting a harmful digital communication. The defendant created fake identities on social media accounts, pretending to be underage. He then targeted victims he believed to be paedophiles, messaging and coaxing them to meet in person. At the meet up the defendant would attempt to place the victim under citizen’s arrest. The interactions were often accompanied by a physical altercation and verbal abuse from the defendant. The encounters were filmed, and the defendant would post the videos to YouTube and other social media sites. There were six victims; all suffered harm from the offending, and one of them committed suicide. The Judge compared the offending to case law and found it fell at the most serious end of the spectrum. For this reason, the two year maximum period of imprisonment was not sufficient to address the offending. Charge 1, involving a victim with an intellectual disability and charge 2, where the victim committed suicide, were each given a sentence of two years imprisonment to be served cumulatively (one after the other). The starting point was therefore four years imprisonment. A three month discount was given for the defendant's personal circumstances and his youth also attracted a three month discount. 20 per cent was given for his guilty plea, making the final sentence two years and eight months. The remaining four charges were to be served concurrently (at the same time). Judgment Date: 17 April 2019.