Coroner chastises catfisher over death of Sydney woman, but the act remains legal

Sydney woman Renae Marsden took her own life in 2013 after being catfished by a friend. but as it stands, it may be predatory and immoral, but it is not against the law.

 

 

The NSW coroner has delivered a scathing assessment of the catfisher that enabled the death of Renae Marsden, squarely blaming the deceased woman’s friend.

The coroner said Marsden’s friend, Camila Zeidan created the fake persona “Brayden Spiteri” to coerce and control Marsden for a period of two years.

Marsden took her own life in 2013 after believing her relationship with “Brayden” was over.

“Camila appeared completely unaffected from the beginning to the end of her evidence about the impact her lies had,” the coroner said on Wednesday.

“She showed no warmth, no concern and no regard to any process of the inquest other than to further her own fiction.

“Her evidence can only be described as disingenuous, at best, and ultimately nothing but a pack of lies,” the coroner said.

As their online relationship developed, ‘Brayden’ sent Renae more than 11,000 text messages over two years. Brayden’s backstory included details that he was in prison, but that his parents had been able to pay off prison staff in order for him to have a phone. Renae’s phone records show she called Goulburn prison on the day she disappeared.

“Renae hasn’t died in vain, I’ll make sure of that,” Teresa Marsden said outside court.

“We can’t allow this to happen to any other kid. We have to protect other victims. Renae truly believed Brayden was real.”

The coroner found Marsden never discovered Brayden’s true identity. At one stage, “Brayden” suggested Marsden have sex with Zeidan “to get her anger out”, eliciting the response “NO” and a comment about there being “no point” if it wasn’t with a guy.

“These communications indicate Renae was very much of the view that Brayden was not only real but certainly not Camila,” the coroner said.

 

 

The Marsden family has campaigned for law reform to specifically address catfishing, but the corner said further examination of the issue was required.

 

Currently in NSW, while catfishing is not a crime in its own right, there are some aspects of the current law that may apply in certain circumstances. There are criminal laws relating to fraud as well as against procuring, grooming or preparing or planning to engage in sexual activity with underage persons.

Carly’s Law was introduced into Federal Parliament in 2017, enabling authorities to prosecute anyone lying about their age to minors online as well as providing other powers of intervention, designed to ensure police can act long before a predator has the opportunity to, and therefore better protect children online.

The Marsden family has campaigned for law reform to specifically address catfishing, but the corner said further examination of the issue was required.

 

 

 

 

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