SYDNEY — A 15-year-old Sydney girl's use of social media will now be monitored closely by her probation officer as part of a sentencing order issued Wednesday.
Provincial court Judge David Ryan said his decision was a compromise to a total ban from social media sought by prosecutor Steve Drake.
"I have given great consideration to what was recommended by the Crown, and I am aware of the importance social media has for young people today," the judge said in sentencing the teen on charges of assault, causing a disturbance and breaching a court.
During the 15-month probation term, the teen is to report all usernames and passwords to any social media site to her probation officer, who can review the girl's posting and decide whether any violate another condition of her probation — to keep the peace and be of good behaviour.
The judge also stipulated the teen is not to register on any site under an alias.
One police officer described the girl as being "a bully of all bullies" and that she was well known to law enforcement because of her anger issues and her problems with alcohol.
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 was on the floor.
The attack on the victim, described as being a highly functional child with autism, was in retaliation for something the victim did to a friend of the accused. The victim suffered bruising as a result of the attack.
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.
Defence lawyer Cheryl Morrison described Drake's recommendation as nothing more than a "modern day shunning" and that a total ban would serve no purpose.
She urged the court to consider the teen's upbringing and how she is managing to turn things around.
The teen is now under the care of Nova Scotia Community Services, living in a teen residential centre since January, and having no contact with her parents or siblings.
Morrison said the girl grew up in a home in which the father abused alcohol and drugs, along with his family members. She also suffered a sexual assault at the hands of another family member.
She started doing drugs and alcohol at age 11 and tried committing suicide.
"She has come a long way since taken into care," Morrison said, noting she attends a local high school and is doing well.
In taking objection to the defence position that a total ban would be akin to a shunning, Drake said it is not the role of the Crown to sugar-coat the facts of a case.
"She has had a difficult upbringing but that is not a licence to go a beat people up," said Drake, in arguments presented earlier this month, after which the court reserved a final sentencing decision.
Other conditions of her probation include she refrain from alcohol and all drugs not prescribed by a doctor, and, if she chooses, she can write a letter of apology to the victim.
In passing sentence, the judge noted the girl can still communicate with family and friends who live elsewhere, but such communications will be under the watchful eye of her probation officer.
While the teen denied ever asking anyone to post a video of the assault online, the judge said the fact someone was present at the time and filmed the assault was not an accident.