'Depraved' man groomed children
SEXUALLY explicit language used to lure children as young as 11 over the internet by a 46-year-old former bus driver was described as heinous by a judge on Friday.
Phillip Mark Douglas pleaded guilty in the Rockhampton District Court to five counts of using a carriage service to groom someone under the age of 16, one count of transmitting child pornography and one count of sexual assault.
Judge Gregory Koppenol, in handing down sentences for the crimes, described the offences as very serious.
"The conversations were explicit," he said.
"I regard your actions as depraved. I think you humiliated and embarrassed these young girls and, in some instances, continued your sexual conversations with them for your own sexual gratification.
"Offences involving child pornography are heinous offences which are rightly condemned by the community."
Crown Prosecutor Dearne Galbraith told the court Taskforce Argos, the Queensland-based police squad that deal with child pornography and child groomers, monitored Mr Douglas' computer usage between April 28, 2009 and May 11, 2009, during which time the taskforce contacted him using a pseudonym.
She said after Douglas transmitted 11 category one images, police executed a search warrant and found, on Douglas' computer, chat conversations with five girls, one which had identified as living in the Netherlands.
"We can't suggest it was definitely a child," Ms Galbraith said.
"It certainly wasn't a Queensland covert officer."
Three of the chatters claimed they were 11 years old, one claimed they were 12 and the other claimed she was 15.
She said this case was different to other child grooming cases in that usually one child was groomed by an offender over a long period of time.
"Most chats with the girls were two or three chats over a period of 20 months, and totalling some six and a half hours," Ms Galbraith said.
Defence Barrister Jeff Clarke said his client was close to his sister and mother, but not his brothers, and that he suffered significant social isolation.
"He's never had a significant relationship with a member of the opposite sex," he said.
Douglas received three-year prison-term sentences, with parole eligibility after 12 months, for six of the offences and 12 months for the other offence.
He will also be subject to a three-year good behaviour term and two years probation, once released from jail.
Douglas will serve his sentences concurrently.