Canadian navy sailor found guilty of child luring while deployed in Australia
HMCS Calgary at sea in October 2018. (Canadian Forces Combat Camera)
VICTORIA -- A sailor in the Royal Canadian Navy has been found guilty of sexual crimes involving a teenage boy while he was on deployment in Australia.
After less than a day of deliberations, a Victoria court martial panel returned guilty verdicts Thursday on charges of child luring, invitation to sexual touching and disgraceful conduct against Master Sailor Randolph “Randy” Machtmes.
The charges stemmed from online communications the B.C. sailor initiated between September and November 2018 while his ship, HMCS Calgary, was in Darwin, Australia, as part of Operation Projection.
The 15-year-old victim and his mother – both of whom cannot be identified under a publication ban – went to local police with hundreds of Instagram messages that were exchanged between the victim and Machtmes, who was 43 at the time.
The messages began on the boy’s 15th birthday and contained explicit descriptions of sex acts, the military court heard.
Police in New South Wales, Australia, reported the communications to Interpol, who alerted the RCMP’s national child exploitation centre in January 2019.
A senior investigator with the child exploitation centre testified last week that investigators were able to link the Instagram account to a navy sailor on Vancouver Island using posts that included photos of a birthday cake, a BC Ferries vessel, and a military service medal that Machtmes was awarded while on the 2018 deployment.
Mounties were later able to link the account to Machtmes after retrieving an email address, phone number and home IP address associated with the account from Facebook, Instagram’s parent company.
The victim and his mother both testified over video calls from Australia about the explicit nature of the messages, including requests for photos of the victim and his girlfriend.
The prosecution argued that while Machtmes was in Australia on what was essentially a diplomatic visit, he sought out a vulnerable youth, instigated highly sexualized conversations and encouraged the teen to engage in sexual activity with his girlfriend who was the same age.
The defence argued that anyone could have authored the messages from the sailor's account while he was deployed.
Military judge Cmdr. Sandra Sukstorf has reserved sentencing in the case until a meeting with the lawyers on April 22.