Written by: Jenae
Trigger Warning: sexual assault, childhood sexual assault, death of a teenager, pedophilia
Carly Ryan was born January 1992 to 20-year-old single mother, Sonya Ryan. I honestly don’t have a ton of background for you, so we’ll skip to teens years. Like many teens in the 2000s, Carly had a MySpace and an account on vampirefreaks.com. She used these accounts to meet people with similar interests, make friends, the usual. Carly was also into the emo scene.
In 2006, Carly began talking to 18-year-old Brandon Kane through MySpace. Brandon was a man from the US who happened to be living in Carly’s home country, Australia. He went by Kurrupt Koala online. Brandon was a musician. Carly and Brandon spent over a year talking to each other and falling in love, their relationship grew from MySpace to phone calls. And Carly’s mother knew about the person her daughter had met, everything seemed good.
In January 2007, a man showed up at Carly’s home. The man said his name was Shane, that he was Brandon’s dad and he came to drop off presents from Brandon to Carly. These presents included both a nurse’s outfit and other lingerie. Carly then introduced the man she believed to be Brandon’s dad to her mother. Since Carly’s 15 birthday party was coming and Shane hadn’t booked a hotel, Sonya allowed “Shane” to stay for the party and even offered a bed for him to stay in until he left.
During the party, “Shane’s” behavior was….strange. He was possessive of Carly and was overall acting shady. He tried to come on to Carly numerous times and he claimed Shane wouldn’t mind, but she rejected him, she loved Brandon. One morning, Sonya walked into her daughter’s room and found that Shane had crawled into bed with Carly. Sonya decided enough was enough, and asked “Shane” to leave. Upon requesting this, Sonya began to more closely monitor Carly’s online activities. Once Carly disclosed all of the creepy things that had happened with Shane around, like the possessive behavior, hitting on her, trying to get her girl friends to kiss in front of him, and him peeping on her while she tried on clothes during a shopping spree he had taken her on, Sonya sent an email to Shane, informing him if he tried to contact Carly again, she would call the police.
On February 19th, Carly left her Stirling, South Australia home for a sleepover with some friends. Before she left, she hugged her mother and her mother says that Carly held her tightly and kept asking for hugs before leaving, almost as if she knew something was off. Unfortunately, she would never return.
Carly was still not home the next day, Sonya decided to call the police. That same morning, Carly’s body was found on the beach of Horseshoe Bay, Port Elliot SA. Her body was in bad shape when found, upon examination there were 19 injuries on her body. Her cause of death was a combination of things, trauma to the face from 6-8 blows to the head, drowning, and suffocation. Carly had been lured to the beach by messages from Brandon and instead died a horrific death.
Authorities begin investigating right away. They obtain security footage that show Carly walking with two men, Shane and an unidentified man. They watch the three get into a pale blue car, witnesses interviewed also remember this car. The last person to see Carly alive remembers seeing her with two men on the beach around 9:30 on February 19th. Investigators track the car down to a place in Victoria, AU. They raided the home to find 50-year-old predator Garry Newman, chatting online with a 14-year-old girl from Perth, AU. Tragically, Brandon was never real. Newman was a divorced father of three, who at the time had an adopted 17-year-old son living with him. This young boy was witness to the crimes against Carly. Newman was arrested and the 17-year-old was detained and questioned.
Upon further investigation, authorities discover that Brandon and Shane were just two of the two hundred online personas that Newman used to groom young girls into sexual behavior and this case is one of the first major cases that is used to discuss grooming behavior online. These accounts were used to chat with girls in AU and abroad.
For awhile, Newman’s name was kept from the media in this trial. During the trial, he tried to deny any sexual nature in what he was doing, claiming that he was a stepfather figure to her and that he had only chatted with her through the Shane profile. He even went so far as to claim he was asexual and wasn’t interested in sex at all. This profile claimed that Shane was a divorced ex-military member with an 18-year-old son. I stated that he liked weed, “did go for girls quite a bit younger than him”, and the “sexual adventurous". He also had this quote on the profile:
"I may not be a kid anymore, but I tend to act much younger than I am, and NEVER EVER call this a mid-life crisis.”
Throughout the trial, Newman stated that he struggled with bipolar and OCD and that he never claimed to be Brandon, just Shane. Ultimately, Newman and the 17-year-old plead not guilty. The 17-year-old was not found responsible and his identity remains suppressed from the public. Newman was sentenced to life in prison, having to serve 29 year before he’ll be eligible for parole.
At the end of the trial, the judge was quoted: (This is directly from the Carly Ryan Foundation website)
“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. 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”
"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.”
In the wake of Carly’s tragic death, her mother decided to make something good out of all the misery. In order to do that, she started the Carly Ryan Foundation. This organization promotes internet safety through education and was actually able to lobby for legal reform in AU. In 2017, a decade after Carly’s death, “Carly’s Law” was introduced into AU law. The law “targets online predators preparing/planning to cause harm to, procure, or engage in sexual activity with a child”. This law and the tireless work of Carly’s mother will be the legacy carried on in the name of Carly Ryan.
Her mother remembers her by recalling how close they were and even stating that having Carly saved her life because Carly always gave her purpose. It seems that purpose isn’t lost, even in death.
The Carly Ryan Foundation Website
Casefile: True Crime
Sydney Morning Herald
The Herald Sun
Australian Women’s Weekly