Bay man is duped into meeting 'teenage boy'

A WARNING that people looking for dates online could be "lured" into breaking the law was raised in Hervey Bay District court.

The warning came yesterday when Judge Kiernan Dorney sentenced a 68-year-old Hervey Bay man to 18 months' jail after he pleaded guilty to one count of using an electronic carriage to procure a child under 16.

The court heard the defendant responded to messages from a 20-year-old man who had set up a fake account as a 15-year-old boy on the popular dating app Grindr.

Crown prosecutor Melissa Wilson said the 20-year-old told the defendant he was 15 and had never had sex before.

Judge Dorney said it was indicated in the defendant's following messages that he believed the person meant his genitals was 15 centimetres long, not that he was 15 years old. However, when the accused was told that the boy he was talking to was one week away from turning sixteen, he did not end the conversation.

When the accused asked the "teenager" for pictures, the man sent him images of his genitals.

Ms Wilson said even after he was told the person he was talking to was only 15, the defendant continued the conversation about meeting up in person. The accused's final message to the man was "if you're too young, forget it".

The two decided to meet at the soccer grounds in Tavistock St, but when the 68-year-old arrived, the other man called the police who arrested him.

Defence Barrister Lars Falcongreen said his client suffered many health problems that could deteriorate if he were sent to prison.

"He needs a railing in his shower and cannot wash independently below his knees." He said his client was remorseful of his actions.

"He was using an adult site where it is expected to be used by people 18 years or over," he said.

"He didn't initiate contact ... the whole course of the conversation was remarkably short."

Before handing down the sentence, Judge Dorney said it worried him that people may "lure" others into offending. "A concern I have that members of the public can undertake these actions and then inform the police about persons who were ... lured into those circumstances," Judge Dorney said.

"There was a reasonably aggressive approach from the person at the other end to get you to commit to actions including receiving photographs and what might happen." The man received a wholly suspended 18 months' jail term.

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