POLITICS

Sex Predators Who Lie About Their Age Online Will Face Jail

Carly's Law to protect children from online grooming.

02/03/2017 11:23 AM AEDT | Updated 02/03/2017 12:09 PM AEDT
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Carly Ryan, killed by a man posing as a young musician online.

Sex predators who lie about their age in grooming young people online will face jail terms under stricter laws to protect kids on the internet.

The government will support the so-called 'Carly's Law' to target the "vile grooming" online, said justice minister Michael Keenan.

Carly Ryan was lured to a Victor Harbour beach in 2007 by a middle-aged man who had pretended to be a young American musician named Brandon. The man had groomed her online for months, and had earlier actually met Carly in person when he pretended to be Brandon's father and gave her expensive gifts. But after Carly rebuffed his advances, the man asked her to come to the beach where he killed her.

"An evolved version of Carly's Law will make it a crime for an adult to use a carriage service to commit an act in preparation for, or planning to, cause harm to or engage in or procure sexual activity with a minor. Importantly, this will include those who misrepresent their age," Keenan said in a statement.

"Carly's Law is the result of a tireless crusade by Adelaide mother Sonya Ryan, whose 15-year-old daughter Carly was murdered a decade ago by an online predator posing as a teenage boy."

South Australian Senator Nick Xenophon proposed the reforms in 2013, and said he was pleased it was finally passing into law.

"This has been a long time coming and it is a tribute to Sonya Ryan's persistence and love for her daughter that these changes will finally come about. There is no question that police will be able to intervene sooner because of these changes which will save many children from harm," Xenophon said.

Under the new laws, police will have powers to intervene earlier.

"Carly's Law will enable law enforcement agencies to take action against predators sooner and with greater consequence. It will give police the power to intervene before predators have a chance to act, and will also serve as a strong deterrent, with a tough new sentence of 10 years prison for convicted offenders," Keenan said.

Carly's mother Sonya was at Parliament House on Thursday as the news was announced that the government would support changes proposed by Senators Nick Xenophon, Skye Kakoschke-Moore and Derryn Hinch.

"After ten years of hard work, we have now given police and prosecutors a new weapon they can use to intervene sooner, and secure more convictions in the case of internet predators. It will give greater protection to children, teenagers and families when these insidious offenders attempt to infiltrate their lives," she said.

"We simply cannot count how many lives have already been saved, and how many children have made safer choices online because of Carly's story. These changes announced today are a beautiful tribute to Carly's legacy."

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