Young Mackay woman pleaded guilty to distributing prohibited visual recordings.
Young Mackay woman pleaded guilty to distributing prohibited visual recordings.

Why a young Mackay worker faced court over her boss’s nudes

A young Mackay woman found herself in court after being lent a phone containing her boss's nudes.

Uncomfortable and unsure what to do she says she sought guidance from two older colleagues.

Under modern law, showing someone explicit images is considered a crime.

But legal expert and former Queensland law society president Bill Potts questioned why the now 22 year old was charged at all. 

Meghan Griffin had been working for a Mackay auto dealer when she requested her boss supply her with a mobile phone or reduce her wages so she could purchase one after damaging hers.

A Mackay woman was lent her old boss’s spare phone which contained numerous sexually explicit images of him and his fiancee.
A Mackay woman was lent her old boss’s spare phone which contained numerous sexually explicit images of him and his fiancee.

Mackay Magistrates Court heard instead her boss had leant her his old spare phone.

Defence solicitor Jordana Abela said the only content stored on the phone was numerous explicit images of her boss and his fiancee, including of the pair engaged in sex acts.

The court heard Griffin showed a colleague in October 2018 and another colleague in January 2019.

"One worker stated … she told (Griffin) multiple times to return the phone … and that was after (she) had shown her the photos," prosecutor Sabine Scott said.

The fiancee told police after she learned about the photos and phone from a work associate.

Officers spoke to Griffin's boss, who told them he believed he had wiped the phone clean of any personal content.

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Griffin, who has no criminal history, pleaded guilty to distributing prohibited visual recordings, but Ms Abela argued this case was not the usual scenario the revenge porn legislation was created to address.

Ms Abela said her client had damaged her phone, which was a necessary tool for her job.

"And requested that her employer issue her with a new iPhone or alternatively that her wages be reduced to cover the costs associated with a new phone," Ms Abela said.

"(Her boss at that time) said that he wasn't able to provide her with a work phone but that he could lend her his old mobile phone.

"I'm instructed that most of the photographs that were in the gallery of that phone were of a sexual nature.

"It was clear to Ms Griffin that absolutely nothing had been wiped from that phone when she received it.

Then 18, the young woman had gone to two older colleagues for advice but this is what got her in trouble.
Then 18, the young woman had gone to two older colleagues for advice but this is what got her in trouble.

"I'm instructed that she felt extremely uncomfortable approaching (her old boss) about the phone due to some inappropriate comments which he had made previously towards her.

"She instructs me that she sought advice from her colleagues … she did that as she thought she was approaching someone older … she was 18 at the time.

"She thought that was the best option at the time."

Ms Abela said there was "no malice in her actions", which acting Magistrate John Aberdeen accepted as another marker this case was "very far removed" from a revenge porn act.

Mr Aberdeen agreed with Ms Abela's penalty submission handing down a 12 month good behaviour bond and no conviction recorded.

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However legal expert Mr Potts said it did not make sense that Griffin was even charged given the circumstances.

"This is a very unusual case," he said.

He said the whole purpose of the revenge porn law was to stop the sharing of other people's private images publicly in a malicious way, deliberately designed to cause distress.

"If you're an 18 year old and you're seeking the advice of someone who's older … who's more experienced, it's not being shared for salacious purposes … it's not being shared out to the internet at large," Mr Potts said.

"In this particular case it's not about revenge, it's not about exposure or salacious behaviour it's about a young person trying to get advice, showing a trusted person."

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But he added the exact wording of the legislation was very broad and included briefly showing a third person. 

Mr Potts said the key message to take for anyone who came across such images was to delete immediately or tell the owner of the images.


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