Teen tells Bendigo court of child porn case pain as offender labelled sex offender for life

A MAN who tricked and later harassed underage girls into sending him pornographic images will spend the rest of his life on the Australian Sex Offender Register.

Benjamin James Titheridge, of Indented Head on the Bellarine Peninsula, pleaded guilty in Bendigo County Court on Tuesday to three charges of procuring a minor for child pornography.

The 20-year-old apprentice chef also pleaded guilty to one count of possessing child pornography.

His victims included a 16-year-old Bendigo girl, who was in court on Tuesday to deliver her impact statement.

The girl said the toll from Titheridge’s crimes on her and fellow victims had been huge.

She told the court there was a time she thought everyone around her knew what had happened and she now disliked being in or even taking photos.

The girl said every time she was contacted by Titheridge she would suffer an anxiety attack and now spent the majority of her time at home “behind closed doors”

"I feel like that this will never be over - the pain never stops”, she said.

"It has made me feel less of a person - this crime has changed everything.

"I've never hated myself as much as I do now.”

The girl said the crime had impacted her financially, affecting her confidence and ability to hold down a job.

Victim impact statements were also tendered from the victim’s mother and step-father, while the Bendigo teen also read extracts from a letter she had written to other victims to comfort them.

Titheridge, who was 17 at the time of the first offending in 2012, had earlier pleaded guilty at a committal hearing in Bendigo Magistrates Court.

The court this week heard that between January 2012 and January 2014, Titheridge had contacted three of his victims, aged 16, to provide him with sexually explicit images via Facebook and text messages.

He later offered cash and other financial inducements to the girls and threatened to pass on images to other Facebook users if they did not.

Titheridge was arrested after a search warrant was issued on the home he shares with his mother in Indented Head.

Police seized a mobile phone, laptop and hard-drive which contained 50 images and one movie of child exploitation material.

The phone contained images of two other victims in sexually explicit poses, including another believed to be from Bendigo.

Defence barrister David Cronin told the court Titheridge had no prior convictions, accepted the seriousness of his offending and had shown remorse.

He said the accused was a loner who had low self-esteem and had been subjected to bullying during his teenage years.

Titheridge was supported in court by his father Raymond, a former teacher of 13 years.

Mr Titheridge said Benjamin was six months old when his parents separated and had always kept to himself.

He said the offending was “totally out of character” for his son, but was unaware until this week of any bullying issues.

The charges of procuring a minor for child pornography and possessing child pornography carried maximum terms of 10 and five years respectively.

Judge Mark Dean said Titheridge's offending had a deeply traumatic effect on his victims and warned of the rising danger of social media-related child pornography offences.

"It's a very destructive - habit’s not the right word - destructive type of behaviour that is becoming more prevalent, “Judge Dean said.

"It’s very destructive for everyone and everyone needs to know how serious it is."

Judge Dean said Titheridge’s young age at the time of the first offending, no previous offences, early plea, good rehabilitation prospects and show of remorse made him a good candidate for a community corrections order.

He imposed an 18-month term.

Titheridge was also ordered to complete a sex offenders program and rehabilitation programs for drugs and alcohol abuse and mental health issues.

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