Weapons seized from Smith, from left: a bottle brush, sinkers and hooks and tent pegs. Photo: Supplied
A Facebook friendship that turned intimate between a truck driver and a girl, 16, which then escalated to sexual fantasies about ‘‘threesomes’’ with sadomasochistic undertones, culminated when he incited her to kidnap her teenage friend.
Melbourne’s County Court heard on Tuesday the idea evolved through a series of conversations and text messages between Nathan Lee Smith and his then girlfriend who discussed abducting and sexually assaulting a female child, then a prostitute and finally the teenager.
An artist's sketch of Nathan Lee Smith in the County Court.
A judge was told that during their relationship Smith often insisted she ask other women to have sex with him, including her relations, girls she worked with and strangers in supermarkets.
Prosecutor Sally Flynn said that over four days in November, 2010, they first discussed kidnapping a female before Smith, then 21, sent her obscene photos and detailed to her that ‘‘he wanted to hurt a female’’ and had seen a video clip of someone being killed with a big spike.
Ms Flynn said Smith told her he ‘‘wanted to do that as it would be ‘so hot’’’, that he had also thought it would be a ‘‘real turn on’’ to set fire to part of a woman and how he wanted to catch, tie and rape her.
‘‘(She) said things like ‘yeah’ and ‘ok’ as she was scared of (him),’’ said Ms Flynn who added that later that night Smith suggested ‘‘buying some items to torture females with’’ which his girlfriend asked him to list which included rope, arm and leg holders, acid and a gag ball.
Ms Flynn’s summary was read after Smith pleaded guilty to a charge of inciting his then-girlfriend to kidnap the unsuspecting victim.
His barrister Jarrod Williams said Smith, now 25, was embarrassed and ashamed of his conduct and described his actions as those of a ‘‘young, immature man in his first serious relationship ... that largely centred around matters of sex’’.
Mr Williams said it ‘‘defies explanation’’ how the situation escalated to such a point and that even Smith, who a psychiatrist found did not suffer any ‘‘particular diagnosis’’, could not ‘‘explain how things ended up the way they did’’.
Ms Flynn told Judge Felicity Hampel that after Smith listed the items, he mentioned ‘‘raping and killing prostitute first’’, then on November 14 his girlfriend told her mother about his plans and they saw police.
Later that afternoon, Smith told her to rewrite the list before they bought items, that included a gag ball, alligator clips, tent pegs and fishing hooks, sinkers and a scrubbing brush, at the Reject Shop, Dick Smith and Big W.
Ms Flynn said they then returned to his girlfriend’s parents’ home in Geelong where she told him she ‘‘did not want to be involved anymore and that she could not do it’’.
‘‘She remained and watched (him) making the items as she was afraid not to,’’ Ms Flynn said, and when contacted by Detective Dale Menzies from the local Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Team she showed him the diary, messages on her phone from Smith and the weapons he had bought and adapted.
After he was arrested in July, 2011, Smith said any conversations or text messages between them about getting a female without consent for a sexual encounter ‘‘was just joking around’’, said Ms Flynn.
‘‘He admitted discussing abducting (the girl) with (his girlfriend) but said they were just joking around,’’ she added.
Ms Flynn submitted the Crown case was that Smith incited his girlfriend to ‘‘pursue a course of conduct’’ that would involve both of them kidnapping the girl.
The planned victim of the kidnapping did want her victim impact statement read aloud, but Ms Flynn read that of Smith’s former girlfriend who described nightmares, and being unable to have a ‘‘normal’’ relationship because she feared ‘‘every other man’’ will be the same as Smith.
In his plea, Mr Williams said Smith had failed to appear last September when his plea was listed as he had become ‘‘overwhelmed with what was going to happen’’ and fled to Sydney before his arrest last month.
Mr Williams said Smith’s parents, who were in court, were ‘‘fully supportive’’ of him regardless of his conduct, which they heard in detail for the first time on Tuesday.
Smith’s prior conviction for stalking, he said, had involved a series of communications on Facebook with a girl, 12, who he arranged to meet before being arrested beforehand.
Mr Williams told Judge Hampel he ‘‘placed some reliance’’ on the nature of the couples’ relationship which ‘‘escalated in intensity’’ and in the extreme nature of the sexual matters they discussed.
Despite the age gap, both were sexually immature, he submitted, and each were ‘‘somewhat fixated on sexual matters in the course of their relationship’’ which was ‘‘intensely sexually-based’’.
Although he did want to be thought attacking her gratuitously or seen to be shifting blame to her, Mr Williams quoted some text messages he said were sent by the girl that included one in which she told Smith she was ‘‘watching a child scream in pain’’.
She had conceded under cross examination at an earlier committal hearing to discussing with Smith ‘‘threesomes’’, the use of sex toys, including handcuffs, and the enjoyment of watching others in pain’’.
Mr Williams, who conceded the ‘‘unusual sexual practices’’ the pair were mutually interested in included threesomes and sadomasochism, told Judge Hampel the circumstances of the offending was ‘‘very confronting and highly unusual’’.
But he argued that in sentencing Smith the focus should be on his rehabilitation, and the protection of the community, that it was his first time in custody and he was enthusiastic to engage in treatment programs.
Smith asked Judge Hampel in a letter to consider his ‘‘loving, honest and supportive’’ family, that his new relationship was loving and supportive and that ‘‘despite my track record’’ he would not reoffend.
In her sentencing submissions, Ms Flynn said the text messages quoted by Mr Williams gave an incomplete picture of their meaning and that Smith’s girlfriend had been gathering evidence against him rather than engaging in a ‘‘perverted interest’’.
She argued that the psychiatrist’s report showed Smith had little insight into his offending and he had shown no remorse.
‘‘Protection of the community is one of the paramount considerations,’’ she said, given Smith’s prior offending and the nature of the current crime.
Judge Hampel remanded Smith in custody for sentencing on February 19.