A HAMILTON man who attempted to start a relationship with a 14-year-old girl has been given a three-month suspended sentence.
Garith James Reid, 21, of Hamilton, pleaded guilty in Warrnambool Magistrates Court this month to four charges including indecent acts with a child under 16, inviting a child for the production of child pornography and indecent communication with a child under 16.
Crown prosecutor Bianca Paridaen told the court Reid met the girl last year and he knew she was 14.
The accused, then 20 years old, and the complainant kissed and hugged towards the end of the night.
Over the following day the two met once more, kissing and hugging again as well as communicating explicitly over Facebook.
Reid asked the girl to send explicit images of herself, which she did not do.
“The accused asked the complainant to send photos,” Ms Paridaen said.
A friend of the girl found the messages left open on her computer and referred the matter to a parent who printed off the messages and reported them to police.
The accused was interviewed in December where he “made full admissions and showed genuine remorse”.
Defence counsel Vince Peters said a conviction was not appropriate as the offences had not been premeditated.
He said Reid was a successful plumber and was a well-liked member of the community.
“He has an unblemished record save for driving,” Mr Peters said.
However, Ms Paridaen said Reid was aware he was breaking the law and cited a message from the accused to the girl saying “shhhh, I could get in trouble”. Magistrate Ron Saines noted Reid “messaged the complainant asking her to delete everything he had sent”.
“There must be a conviction. He knowingly ventured into conduct he knew to be illegal,” Mr Saines said.
In sentencing Reid, the magistrate noted he was for the most part “a fine young man and I’m satisfied there’s a very low risk of you reoffending”.
But Mr Saines said the community had to know “there will always be consequences of criminality of this sort”.
Regarding child porn charges he told Reid, “you pushed the matter on numerous occasions” despite the girl’s reluctance.
“But that did not stop your invitations coming,” Mr Saines said, warning the penalty would have been worse if Reid had procured the images.
“It was only a matter of luck that adults came across this communication.”
Reid was given a three-month suspended sentence and placed on the sex offenders’ registry.
Reid was convicted and fined $2000.