Sex register questioned as judge criticises mandatory requirement

A COUNTY court judge has criticised a mandatory sentencing law requiring an 18-year-old Warrnambool man to be registered as a sex offender for 10 years.

Rhys Pickett, now 19, of Morriss Road, was sentenced to an 18-month community corrections order after he pleaded guilty to the sexual penetration of a child under the age of 18.

Judge Julian Leckie said the draconian law was designed for paedophiles and to place a young man like Pickett on the register was a waste of time and effort. He said he did not regard Pickett as a threat to young women.

Last week, the court heard on a night towards the end of March last year Pickett attended a party but at 11.45pm he went to another house where he intended to stay.

The 13-year-old girl was at the home, they watched TV before kissing and they had intercourse.

They have not spoken since that night. The girl told a friend about what happened and that led to police involvement.

In a victim impact statement, the girl said Pickett took advantage of her, she now no longer wanted to sleep alone and slept with her mother.

Judge Leckie said he believed Pickett was young and immature at the time and the offending was unplanned and spontaneous.

He said the consequences were serious and had psychologically impacted on the girl and her mother.

He said he was satisfied Pickett had genuine remorse for his actions and had readily admitted them to police.

Judge Leckie said Pickett's chances of rehabilitation were very good and he had very low prospects of re-offending.

He ordered Pickett be placed on a community corrections order which include he receive treatment for alcohol rehabilitation and, if advised, attend the sex offenders program.

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