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ADFA Skype scandal cadets sentenced, avoid jail

Date

Christopher Knaus and Michael Inman

No jail time ... Lawyer Francis Cahill, centre front, addresses the media with Dylan Deblaquiere, left,  and Daniel McDonald, centre back.

No jail time ... Lawyer Francis Cahill, centre front, addresses the media with Dylan Deblaquiere, left, and Daniel McDonald, centre back. Photo: Graham Tidy

Two ADFA cadets who secretly streamed vision of a young woman having sex over Skype will not serve any time behind bars.

Dylan Deblaquiere, 21, and Daniel McDonald, 21, sat still, staring straight ahead as they learned they would avoid imprisonment over the crime.

Earlier this year, the pair were found guilty over the now notorious 2011 Skype affair, in which McDonald streamed images of himself having sex with a female cadet to a roomful of his friends, including Deblaquiere.

Lawyer Francis Cahill, walks from the court with the two convicted cadets: Dylan Deblaquiere, right and Daniel McDonald, centre.

Lawyer Francis Cahill, walks from the court with the two convicted cadets: Dylan Deblaquiere, right and Daniel McDonald, centre. Photo: Graham Tidy

The crime, committed on the ADFA Canberra campus, sparked a wave of criticism about Australian Defence Force culture, and prompted the formation of the Defence Abuse Response Taskforce.

Defence leadership later claimed the force was improving its culture.

But doubt was cast on those statements last week, when the Skype case exposed further revelations about a sexual hazing group that existed within ADFA.

The group, named "Love of my Life", required male cadets of a football team to perform sexual acts on each other as part of an initiation ritual.

McDonald, who was earlier suspected of being a founding member, has since been cleared of involvement with the group.

Police believe the group was involved in acts of bastardisation for a period of nine months, with one incident allegedly occurring in the centre of Canberra two months before the Skype trial.

In sentencing the pair on Wednesday, Acting Justice John Nield noted the substantial impact of the crime on the female victim.

The woman told the court last week that she had been bullied and ostracised across the ADF after details of the Skype affair became public.

She said she was offered little support, and was referred to as "that Skype slut" by her peers.

The victim said the incident destroyed her life and forced her to leave her dream job in the military.

"Her whole world has even shattered, her dignity stolen... her self-worth destroyed," Acting Justice Nield said on Wednesday.

"The offenders abused and degraded the complainant for their own perverse satisfaction," he said.

McDonald and Deblaquiere had maintained their innocence throughout the case, claiming the woman knew the sex was being streamed via Skype.

But Acting Justice Nield dismissed McDonald’s version of events, which he told to police and military investigators, as an "outrageous and blatant lie".

"[It was] something told by him in the hope of exculpating him from the situation he had found himself," he said.

He described the crime as a real and substantial invasion of the victim’s right to privacy.

"No one expects that his or her sexual partner would transmit their sexual encounter to the world at large," he said.

"[McDonald] broke his word to her... he exposed her to humiliation and ridicule," he said.

But Acting Justice Nield also took into account their young age, their good prospects for rehabilitation, the likelihood they would not reoffend, and their otherwise unblemished criminal record.

He noted at the start of his sentencing remarks that McDonald and Deblaquiere were intelligent, performed well at school, and had a good childhood.

"They had everything going for them and nothing going against them," Acting Justice Nield said.

"Then they committed the subject offences," he said.

Acting Justice Nield said he had given "careful and anxious" thought to whether a prison sentence was the court’s only option.

He said he had wavered between yes and no on that question, but ultimately decided prison was not the only appropriate sentence for the crime.

McDonald was put on a 12 month good behaviour order for the act of indecency and for the charge of using a carriage service in a way which was offensive.

Deblaquiere was put on a 12 month good behaviour order for the same carriage service offence.

The charges carried maximums of five years jail for the act of indecency and three years jail for the carriage service offence.

In a statement to the media outside court, the victim said the sentence brought a close to a tough phase of her life.

"I’d like to thank everyone who has supported me through this difficult time, especially my husband, my family, grandparents and my amazing legal team," she said, reading from a written statement.

When asked what she thought of the decision, she replied: "Justice Nield has been fair throughout this whole trial and I respect his decision in the matter."

McDonald may be kicked out of ADFA permanently, given his criminal conviction.

Deblaquiere had already left ADFA by the time of his trial.

Acting Justice Nield warned both men that they would face imprisonment if they breached their good behaviour orders.

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