Carly Ryan was 15-years-old when she was murdered by an online predator. It was the first crime of its type in Australia, occurring in 2007 when social media was a new phenomenon and paedophiles were starting to infiltrate the online space. Determined to help prevent harm to other innocent children and families and to help them navigate their online journey safely, Carly’s mum Sonya incorporated The Carly Ryan Foundation in 2010.
The CRF is a certified online safety program provider under the Office of the eSafety Commissioner and delivers online safety and healthy relationship seminars to students and parents. The organisation also provides a range of services and support in the areas of internet safety and crime, cyberbullying, connection to resources and counselling and contributing to law and policy reform.
The harm-prevention charity is based in Carly’s home state of South Australia but presents its education program ‘Project Connect’ nationally. Its team will deliver in excess of 300 seminars throughout the year while balancing its political advocacy work which has already seen ‘Carly’s Law’ introduced into the Commonwealth Criminal Code in 2017 and in South Australia in 2018.
The CRF is a member of the Online Safety Consultative Working Group and contributed to the establishment of the Office of the eSafety Commissioner. In January 2018, the organisation was invited to join the new eSafety and Mental Health Steering Group.
Sonya is also a member of the education and prevention working group with the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE)
Sonya Ryan was a finalist in the 2017 Human Rights Awards and is a previous winner of South Australian of the Year.
In 2018, Ms Ryan opened a United Nations conference in Bangkok. In the same year, she was awarded the Mother of the Nation Award at the Interfaith Alliance for Safer Communities: Child Dignity in the Digital World Forum held in Abu Dhabi. This award was in recognition of her distinguished efforts in supporting mothers and children.
Ms Ryan accepted the award in honour of her daughter's legacy and was grateful for the opportunity to represent Carly on a world stage.
Sonya's lived experience of extreme suffering demonstrates the strength of a mothers love connection with her daughter - the unparalleled power of love.
In 2006 Carly Ryan thought she had met her dream boyfriend online. His name was Brandon Kane, a 18yr old musician from Melbourne. Brandon was in fact fictitious. An internet construct, the cyberspace alter ego of Garry Francis Newman, a 50yr old predator and paedophile. Carly fell in love with the Brandon construct during 18 months of online contact and phone calls.
Garry Newman spent months masquerading as Brandon Kane to win Carly’s love. When he tried to seduce her in person pretending to be Brandon’s father “Shane”, she rejected him. Angry, Garry Newman returned to Melbourne vowing to “fix Carly up.” He used his alter ego to lure Carly to a final, fatal meeting.
In February 2007, Garry Newman convinced Carly to meet him. He took Carly to a secluded beach at Port Elliott, South Australia. There, he bashed her, pushed her face into the sand, suffocating her, he then threw her into the water to drown. She was only 15yrs old.
Within 11 days, detectives located Garry Newman in Victoria. They found him at his computer, logged in as Brandon Kane talking with a 14yr old girl in Western Australia. They arrested him, charging him with Carly's murder. In a Supreme Court trial which continued for over three months, a jury found Garry Francis Newman guilty of murder. He was sentenced on 31 March 2010. South Australian Justice Trish Kelly ordered him to serve a life behind bars with a 29yr non parole period.
Justice Kelly said “Garry Newman deserves a life behind bars for his grossly perverted plan to deceive, seduce and murder Carly.” “It was a terribly cruel thing you did to this beautiful, impressionable 15yr old child” Justice Kelly said “I say child because that’s what she was, a child that fell in love with the idea of the handsome, musically inclined and rather exotic Brandon Kane, the real man was in fact an over weight, balding, middle aged paedophile with sex and murder on his mind”
Justice Kelly said “You were sexually obsessed with Carly to the degree that when you couldn’t get your own way, you prepared to and did kill her.” Carly was a beautiful, sensitive, loving and amazing young lady with her whole life ahead of her. For Carly, her dreams, goals and future were taken away by a selfish, twisted, deviant sex predator.
The Carly Ryan Foundation was incorporated by Carly’s mum, Sonya. Her aim is to create awareness and educate children and parents using the internet. She will work to expose the thousands of multiple identities paedophiles use to lure young children.
Cyber pervert’s will continue to prey on kids unless we wake up to the risks of various online mediums, chat rooms and social networking sites. What happened to Carly can happen to anyone. People that groom the young online are manipulating and controlling. They know exactly how to target a child. They become the most important person in that child’s life, then use that trust to do whatever they like to their victim. The internet is part of our daily lives, it is essential that children, teens and young adults learn how to navigate the worldwide web safely.