Man had sex with un­der-aged girls

South Western Times - - News - Kate Field­ing

A 21-year-old Bridgetown man who had sex­ual in­ter­course with two girls un­der the age of 16, in­clud­ing one who was in­tox­i­cated and “vul­ner­a­ble” at a party, has re­ceived a sus­pended jail term.

The man ap­peared in Bun­bury District Court on Mon­day when he pleaded guilty to two counts sex­u­ally pen­e­trat­ing a child un­der 16.

In Jan­uary 2017 the man — who was 19 at the time — was friends and “hung out on a reg­u­lar ba­sis” with a 15-year-old girl be­fore they en­gaged in con­sen­sual in­ter­course two weeks be­fore her 16th birthday. The man did not use pro­tec­tion and the two con­tin­ued with a sex­ual re­la­tion­ship past the girl’s birthday.

Fur­ther in Oc­to­ber, 2017, the then 20-year-old man was at a party where a 14-year-old girl known to him also at­tended and started drink­ing.

The girl be­came de­pressed at the party and the man — de­scribed as “heav­ily in­tox­i­cated” — at­tempted to com­fort her. The girl asked the man to have in­ter­course with her and he agreed, the court was told.

State pros­e­cu­tor Caja Pol­glase said the first in­ci­dent was “ob­jec­tively less se­ri­ous” but ar­gued that the sec­ond war­ranted an im­me­di­ate jail term.

Ms Pol­glase said one wit­ness de­scribed the girl at the party as so in­tox­i­cated, she was sway­ing and un­able to stand still and the man knew how old she was and her vul­ner­a­ble state. De­fence lawyer Michael Devlin said while it was no ex­cuse, the man was an ex­ces­sive drinker of al­co­hol.

Mr Devlin said the man had gained in­sight while in prison and re­alised he was heav­ily in­volved with al­co­hol that was “cloud­ing any judg­ments and right-minded think­ing”.

“He should have been the adult in the equa­tion. He wasn’t, he didn’t and clearly he now re­grets that,” Mr Devlin said.

Judge Alan Troy said the man “ex­ploited the vul­ner­a­bil­ity of an im­ma­ture vic­tim” in the sec­ond in­ci­dent but he was sat­is­fied he was “highly un­likely” to re-of­fend.

“I take the view that your in­sight, gen­er­ally speak­ing, and your re­morse is gen­uine,” Judge Troy said.

The man was sen­tenced to 15 months jail, sus­pended for 15 months with pro­gram and su­per­vi­sion re­quire­ments.

Judge Troy stressed that a “fun­da­men­tal ra­tio­nale” for sus­pend­ing the sen­tence was the fact the man had al­ready spent eight months in cus­tody.

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