Crown wants Cape Breton teen banned from using social media

Staff ~ The Cape Breton Post
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SYDNEY — Crown prosecutor Steve Drake is seeking a unique sentencing for a 15-year-old Sydney area girl who one police officer described as being "a bully of all bullies."

Crown prosecutor Steve Drake

He is asking a judge to ban the girl from accessing all forms of social media while on probation, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

"Crimes involving the use of new technology are becoming increasingly common and the misuse of social networking sites for criminal purposes is a new reality," said Drake, adding that cyber-bullying among young people is part of that reality.

The teen, whose identity is prohibited from publication in accordance with the Youth Criminal Justice Act, was charged with assault after an incident at a local school in which she sucker punched another female student and then kicked the victim several times while she lay on the floor.

Drake said an added element to the assault was the fact the accused asked a friend to video tape the scene which was then posted to Facebook and other social media sites.

Defence lawyer Cheryl Morrison said her client denied asking a friend to video the assault. Drake said the friend admitted to being asked by the accused to film the attack.

The video was played Wednesday in court and shows the accused standing in the hallway and then running towards another female student and punching her in the head. The punch knocked the girl to the floor and the accused then proceeded to kick the girl in the head, arms, legs and chest.

Drake said the school assault was a vicious attack and it was a matter of good luck that the victim didn't suffer more serious injuries than bruising.

"She has had a difficult upbringing but that is not a license to go a beat people up," said Drake, during Wednesday's sentencing arguments.

Citing examples of other prohibition measures usually attached to court orders, Drake noted that impaired driving demands an offender have no access to a vehicle, child pornography charges dictate the accused have no access to computers, weapons offences demand no access to weapons and sexual offences involving children usually ban accused from being in areas where children are likely to gather, such as parks, community pools and playgrounds.

"Facebook may be a staple in the social lives of young people, but when it is used as a vehicle for the commission of a crime, someone should take away the key," said Drake, in urging the court to adopt his recommendation.

He also noted the accused is well known to police because of her anger issues and her problems with alcohol. He said one officer described the accused as being a bully of all bullies.

The teen will be sentenced later this month after pleading guilty to the charges of assault and to additional charges of causing a disturbance and breaching a court order.

The breach charge relates to an incident in Sydney in which the accused was drunk and found pummelling another girl in an area behind Centre 200. At the time of the offence, the girl was already on conditions to refrain from alcohol.

The disturbance charge relates to an incident at a local flower shop. The accused was again intoxicated and began screaming and hollering at customers entering the store. The accused took a swing at a store clerk before being arrested.

The incidents occurred in March, May and July.

Both the Crown and the defence are recommending a lengthy period of probation given that these are the first charges brought against the girl in court.

Morrison requested an adjournment of the sentence hearing pending delivery of a report, which she said is necessary for her client.

Provincial court Judge David Ryan, sitting as a youth court judge, adjourned the hearing until Oct. 30 when he is expected to impose a sentence.

Organizations: Centre 200

Geographic location: Cape Breton, Sydney

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