'Sexting' pool cleaner's sentence cut
A man convicted of sending sexually explicit messages to nine women without their consent has had his jail term slashed because of an error by a Sydney magistrate.
Pool cleaner Peter Lewis Sheather is believed to be the first Australian jailed for sexting, after he sent lewd images to several women in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.
A magistrate labelled Peter Lewis Sheather "depraved" while jailing him for sending sexually explicit messages to nine women without their consent.
The 42-year-old admitted to "sexting" the women using text messages, photographs and videos between December 2013 and April this year.
The Cammeray resident was charged with nine counts of using a carriage service to menace, harass or offend after police seized laptops and documents from his home in late April.
In sentencing him to at least three years jail, Magistrate Roger Prowse said: "If you had to look up the word depraved, you would find an entry: Peter Sheather."
But Sheather had his sentence almost halved on appeal with Judge Michael King shaving 16 months off his minimum term, making him eligible for release in March 2016.
Judge King noted that the magistrate who originally sentenced Sheather mistakenly handed down a total jail term which was more than what was available to the Local Court.
"It's not uncommon for magistrates dealing with lengthy lists of matters before them to make such errors," he told the District Court on Friday.
Sheather's trial heard that he was unknown to most of his victims and had sourced their phone numbers while working at a pool maintenance business.
He referred to several of his victims by name in a message saying, "I'd love to f*** you in your pool", the court heard.
When a victim warned Sheather she would show a sexually explicit video of a lewd act to police, he replied, "You don't even know who it is."
The court heard Sheather had sought treatment for depression and had had a disadvantaged childhood marred by sexual abuse.
Mr Prowse denied a defence application to have the sentencing adjourned pending a psychological evaluation.
"Depression does not equal depravity," Mr Prowse said.
"Just imagine the outrage of the victims if he wasn't jailed."
Mr Prowse said Sheather had a "hideous" record of offending and little prospect of rehabilitation.
While there had been a break in offending between 2002 and 2014, the judge noted that he had spent a chunk of that time behind bars.
"It's a bad judgment call that the appellant has made on repeated occasions," he added.
Sheather, wearing a dark suit, sat motionless in the dock as he listened to the judgment.
Before sentencing, lawyers for Sheather argued their client was subjected to "snide remarks" from passers-by on the street who recognised him from media reports - and that that had served as a form of punishment.
But Judge King did not accept that.
"The community is entitled to know ... the appalling behaviour of Mr Sheather and entitled, if they should remember it, to be able to recognise him," he said
The court heard that Sheather had been diagnosed with a form of paraphilia, a condition marked by sexual attraction for objects or people outside the norm.
News break - November 14