Judge declines to take internet off ‘most vilified man in New Zealand’ Jayden Meyer

A protest was recently held in Aotea Square against convicted rapist Jayden Meyer.

RICKY WILSON/STUFF

A protest was recently held in Aotea Square against convicted rapist Jayden Meyer.

A bid to have internet devices taken off a teen rapist has failed, with a judge siding with his lawyer who claimed it was a “knee-jerk” response to publicity about the case.

Jayden​ Desmond Meyer, 18, was sentenced to nine months’ home detention in July for sexual offences against five Bay of Plenty girls, four of whom were raped.

The perceived leniency of the sentence sparked protests.

In the Tauranga District Court on Monday, the Community Probation Service sought a variation to Meyer’s home detention conditions, that he not possess or use any electronic device capable to accessing the internet, other than a device approved in writing by a probation officer.

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This was partly to stop him potentially communicating with his victims. There was also concern that he was using Snapchat, which was difficult for probation officers to monitor because it automatically self-deleted.

Meyer’s lawyer, Rachael Adams, said the move was “draconian” and unjustified. It was clearly aimed at Meyer’s use of a smartphone and tablet, she said.

“This application is a knee-jerk response to … a completely unnecessary public furore as a result of sensational reporting.”

It was already a condition of his sentence that he provide his electronic devices for monitoring by his probation officer and he had done so “without hesitation … whenever requested”.

“That included a recent unannounced late night swoop on a Sunday for the purpose of checking his devices, designed I suggest to take him by surprise.”

Adams said Meyer’s case did not involve the “predatory use” of social media. He needed the internet and social media to contact friends, family and supporters.

The effect of the application would be to isolate him from the world even more than he already was, Adams said.

“He’s perhaps the most vilified man in New Zealand and the terms of home detention and threats to his personal safety mean he is physically now completely isolated – he cannot leave home, there is no landline, his mother is required to work long hours – he is on his own for most fo the day … in his room.”

She said watching movies and playing video games kept him positive and provided “solace and hope”.

He was also continuing his year 12 studies online.

“He’s only 18, he is still very vulnerable and the effect on him of the media explosion has been crushing – I would go so far as to say his mental health and safety could be in danger if he is effectively cut off from any ability to communicate in a meaningful way.”

Judge Harding declined the application, saying it did not meet the statutory requirements for a variation of conditions.

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