Warning: This story contains details of child sexual abuse that readers may find distressing.
A Ballarat man jailed for eight years for using Snapchat to groom and rape children committed 12 of his 16 offences while on bail.
Court documents reveal the former aged care worker was subject to four police investigations in relation to his criminal activity against children, which occurred between 2018 and 2019. During a sentencing hearing in the Victorian County Court on Monday, Judge Mark Dean told the court his crimes were "serious examples" of the offences, and that "vulnerable young people must be protected from predators like you".
In mid-2018, the then 22-year-old man propositioned three girls in a suburban street, asking for their details on the messenger application Snapchat in exchange for "$1 each for a slurpee". He later met up with one of the girls, who was aged 12 at the time, and raped her in a Melton park. Police searched the man's home after the girl's mother complained to the police, and he was arrested and charged with the sexual penetration of a child under the age of 16 and the possession of child abuse material.
The man was bailed in the Supreme Court in January 2019, after which he went onto commit a further 12 offences. In early 2019, the Ballarat man met two girls aged between 13 and 15 years old and drove to a Melton park. Court documents state the man "asked them to perform oral sex and they agreed to do so in exchange for chicken nuggets and cigarettes".
The court heard the man went on to contact the initial 12-year-old victim while on bail over Snapchat, urging her to drop her case against him so he could avoid jail — referring to his own obligations as a parent. "Do you really want a father not to see his daughter?" he wrote. The court heard the man also groomed another four girls on Snapchat while on bail, one as young as 9 years old, requesting naked images of them and sending pictures of his erect penis.
The man has been placed on the sex offender register for life.
But the judge noted the predator had a complex history which meant he also had vulnerabilities that needed to be taken into account. The now 25-year-old suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder after he himself suffered sexual assault as a child and has Tourette syndrome and Borderline Personality Disorder.
The judge noted that the Ballarat man had entered an early guilty plea and appeared "genuinely remorseful" for his crimes. He was sentenced to a total of eight years, with a non-parole period of three years and six months. He will be eligible for parole in 2023.