A Casterton man has pleaded guilty to the online grooming of a 14-year-old girl - who turned out to be an undercover cop.
Robert Mortimer, 57, of Mitchell Street, appeared in Warrnambool County Court charged with using a carriage service to groom a child, possessing child pornography and soliciting child pornography using a carriage service.
He pleaded guilty to the charges and will be sentenced by Judge Gerard Mullaly on Wednesday.
Barrister Cameron Baker said Mr Mortimer never intended to meet the person he believed was a 14-year-old girl.
He said the pair chatted online and that the offending was not aggravated by an actual victim.
He said Mr Mortimer was remorseful and had told a psychologist that he would regret his decisions for the rest of his life.
On March 30, 2016, South Australian police received a report that Mr Mortimer had asked for sexually explicit pictures from a 13-year-old girl via email, the court was told.
The girl did not wish to take the matter further but agreed to let police use her identity to contact the accused online and introduce him to a fake 14-year-old girl named Hayley.
Mr Mortimer and Hayley began speaking online through various applications.
Over the next nine months Mr Mortimer allegedly sent Hayley sexual messages, as well as photos of himself shirtless and holding his genitals.
He told her how to save the photos to a USB so that her mother couldn’t find them.
He allegedly ask her if she wanted to be his online boyfriend and told her that he wanted to have sex with girls her age.
On April 13, 2016 Hayley told Mr Mortimer that she would be visiting Mount Gambier. He told her that he lived just 45 minutes away but that he could get in trouble if he saw her.
He asked her to send him photos of her in her bathers and asked if she was a virgin.
On January 20 last year a search warrant executed at Mr Mortimer’s Casterton property revealed 154 photos and four videos containing sexually explicit images of children aged between four and 14.
Mr Mortimer told police that he had been using an online chat room on and off for a period of six years.
He allegedly had 20 online contacts, six of which were underage girls.