Internet daters are real people who don’t only exist in cyberspace, a judge has warned after a man blackmailed a woman searching for love online.
Bradley McIntyre, 27, struck up a relationship with the woman on a dating website and she sent him naked pictures after the pair swapped flirty messages.
McIntyre pleaded guilty to using those photos to blackmail the woman into giving him sex and money after she refused to meet up with him.
Victorian County Court Judge Michael Tinney said McIntyre’s case should be used as a cautionary tale for the community.
“I must send a message loud and clear to people who use this style of dating site that inappropriate use can cause the commission of a serious crime,” he said.
“They must not lose sight that at the other end is a real person who can be offended against … not someone who exists only in cyberspace.
“People seem to write or do things in an online message setting they just wouldn’t contemplate in real life.”
Judge Tinney sentenced McIntyre to a nine-month prison term, suspended for two years, for a crime he described as cold-hearted.
“It was disgusting, it was evil and it was nasty behaviour,” he said.
McIntyre’s victim refused to meet up with him once she learned the name and photos he had sent her were fraudulent.
In response, McIntyre threatened to publish her naked photos online, alongside her name and phone number, unless she agreed to sex and a cash payment.
Judge Tinney said the woman initially agreed to sleep with McIntyre, and offered a sum of money, but eventually went to police in June 2013.
McIntyre, of Wollongong, is a leading seaman in the Royal Australian Navy and is married with a young child.
He used the dating website to alleviate social isolation while away from home and on duty in Melbourne, Judge Tinney said.
The court was told he now plans to leave the navy to spend more time with his family.
McIntyre was convicted of blackmail and fined $5000.