A former Australian Federal Police (AFP) worker who sent his partner’s 11-year-old daughter Instagram messages saying he needed to “see her nude body” has avoided jail.
The man sent messages to 11yo girl, together with phrases like “I want to see your nude body” the previous AFP worker denied writing the messages at trial, saying he might have been hacked judge says the person is an “exception” to general practice that child groomers be sent to jail.
The man was found guilty by an ACT Supreme Court jury earlier this year of grooming the girl.
During the trial his lawyer told the jury most of the messages exchanged between the person and the girl over a number of months were “innocent”, suggesting someone else had sent the messages.
After being confronted by the girl’s mother, he advised he had been hacked, and told the mother to change her password, as she might have been hacked too.
However the jury found him guilty of sending the messages, including “I want to see your nude body” instantly followed by “yes or no”.
Justice Michael Elkaim said the motive behind the messages had been to influence the girl’s attitude to being abused by the person.
“I am glad that the jury found … that these messages had been sent by the offender with the intention of making it easier to acquire the complainant to have interaction in sexual activity with him,” he said.
During the man’s trial, the court heard the girl had told police “I’ve been getting weird, awkward and inappropriate messages from the man”.
Justice Elkaim noted “at 1st sight, variety of the messages may be seen as having established the offence”.
However he said that solely 2 may be verified to have been sent throughout the date range on the indictment bearing charges against the person.
“While the other presumably incriminating messages might be considered of contextual connection they cannot be seen as forming the basis upon which the offender was condemned,” Justice Elkaim said.
The judge noted the person had missed the conclusion of his own trial as he had been committed to a mental health facility.
He said a psychiatric report advised that the person’s mental health condition would make it harder for the man to serve a jail sentence.
Justice Elkaim said the person had antecedently worked for the AFP in a civilian role, however had resigned once he was charged.
He noted a jail sentence should usually “flow automatically” from grooming offences, however said the man’s circumstances meant he may be an “exception”.
The man was handed a suspended sentence of 2 years, ending in August 2021.