'Moment of weakness': Man has sex with underage girl at church group
A GLADSTONE man experienced "a moment of weakness" when he was approached for sex by an underage girl in a church youth camp shower room, a court has heard.
The man, 24, was taking part in the Rockhampton camp when he had sex with the 15-year-old on September 28 last year.
The man, originally from Rockhampton, pleaded guilty in Gladstone Magistrates Court to having unlawful carnal knowledge with the girl, as well as two unrelated drug offences and breaching an existing probation order.
Lawyer Kylie Devney told the court her client was "not in a good head space" when he had consensual sex with the girl.
"In the days leading up to the offence, (the girl) had made it clear she was interested in him, but he had been ignoring her advances until then," Ms Devney said.
"He had attended the camp to try and turn himself around."
Ms Devney said the man, the girl and another person were up late one night, talking in a common area.
She said the girl and the third person told the man they were going to bed, and he said he would have a shower.
Ms Devney said the man was in the female showers, because the male showers were not in use, when the girl approached him for sex.
"He said he did not make good decisions in that moment," she said.
"He certainly understands the seriousness of this offence, and can only explain it as a moment of weakness as a result of his poor frame of mind at that time."
Ms Devney said the sex was consensual and, at age 15 and 11 months, the girl was just one month away from the age of consent.
She said it was a camp leader who had reported the matter to police, and the girl was distressed the man had been charged.
Ms Devney said her client had been using illicit drugs to "self medicate" his now-diagnosed bipolar disorder at the time.
She said the man had turned his life around since then, and was now off drugs and in a stable relationship.
Prosecutor Gavin Reece said the offence was especially concerning because there was an eight year age gap between the two, and the man had a history of "drug and street crimes".
However, Mr Reece acknowledged the girl was not physically harmed and seemed to be recovering without any ongoing affects on her wellbeing.
Magistrate Jeffrey Clarke noted the offence was "a one-off", and not predatory or exploitative in nature.
"But we must protect young people from themselves and their immaturity," Mr Clarke said.
"That's why the law is in place."
For the sex offence, Mr Clarke sentenced the man to nine months in jail, suspended for 18 months.
For the other offences, the man was fined $500, with his probation extended for two additional years.
He will be placed on the sex offender registry.