'Six months shy of consent': No jail for underage sex

A YOUNG man tried to do the right thing when his 15-year-old girlfriend stayed over for the night.

He let her sleep in his bed while he moved out onto the lounge room couch.

But during the night the girl went naked into the lounge room where he was sleeping, an Ipswich court heard.

Their sexual encounter was revealed to her dad by a friend of hers, and he complained to Ipswich police.

The 21-year-old man was charged with two counts of indecent treatment of a child Under 16; two counts of unlawfully permitting himself to be indecently dealt with by a child under 16; and unlawful carnal knowledge of a child under 16.

His offences went before Ipswich Magistrates Court.

Prosecutor Nicole Schmitt, for the Director of Public Prosecutions, said the offences took place over a weekend in August 2017. The man was 21, the girl aged 15 and six months, falling short of the legal age of consent (16). Ms Schmitt said the girl had undressed herself and asked the man to have sex.

He refused but then agreed.

Further sexual encounters took place the next day.

"A friend told her father that she had sex with an older man. And she told police officers she instigated the sexual conduct," Ms Schmitt said.

Ms Schmitt said there was no evidence before the court of the offences having any effect on the child: "She was six months shy of the age of consent".

She said the maximum penalty was 14 years jail but in this case the offending was classified as being relatively low-level.

While the activity was initiated by the girl it was still necessary to protect children from themselves.

Ms Schmitt said the young man had no criminal history.

"At its worst it was opportunistic but not predatory," she said.

Defence barrister Tony Kimmins said the man still lived with his parents and in his written submission he sought for the court to find that there were "exceptional circumstances" for the man to avoid actual jail time.

Magistrate Louisa Pink accepted that the girl was the instigator of the sexual conduct by her own admission.

Ms Pink found it was not predatory, and it involved no threats. The psychologist's report found only a low risk of repeat offending.

Ms Pink sentenced him to a two-year probation order. A conviction was not recorded.

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