A JUDGE has found a love affair between a 14-year-old girl and a 17-year-old family friend (neither of whom we have named, to protect their identity) was not a case of exploitative behaviour.
In District Court in Gladstone, Judge Douglas McGill SC said there was no suggestion the conduct was anything but entirely consensual.
"She was 14 so not particularly young. She was a willing party to the offending at the time," Judge McGill said.
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His Honour made the comments while sentencing a Gladstone man who pleaded guilty to two counts of indecent treatment of a child under 16 between January 1 and May 31 last year, two counts of having carnal knowledge of a child under 16, and possession of child exploitation material; images of the girl.
Crown prosecutor Sandra Cupina said any sexual offending against a child aged 14 was always serious because they were "too young to give consent" and there were the dangers of pregnancy and disease.
In a victim impact statement, the girl's mother wrote the offending caused her daughter to grow up quickly.
Defence barrister Tom Polley said the relationship was "not of a predatory nature but a natural progression into a boyfriend, girlfriend situation".
"He (the defendant) is now thinking clearly and regrets his actions and sorry for what he's done," he said.
"He comes before the court technically an adult but in essence it was two children taking things a bit too far."
Mr Polley said the young man had a promising football career until an injury put him out of contention to sign a training contact with a state team. He had been left in a low mood for some time and this led to problems with alcohol and drugs, which he no longer took.
Mr Polley said he was highly thought of by people who supplied references. Mr Polley said it was likely he would be placed on the sexual offenders register and it was unfortunate Queensland courts were not given "discretion" with that.
Judge McGill said it was very unlikely the man, now 19, would reoffend, however there was a need to deter similar behaviour by others.
He said the girl at first told police she did not want him charged but it seemed she had a change of heart some months later.
Judge McGill said the victim impact statement suggested there had not been much of an adverse effect although there was an "early sexualisation". "There was no suggestion of any physical harm here," he said.
"When its seriousness was brought home to you that this behaviour was wrong you stopped," he told the man.
Judge McGill placed the man on a two year probation order, and ordered him to complete 200 hours of unpaid community service work.
No conviction was recorded.