A 20-year-old Nelson man who struck up a consensual sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl after chatting through Facebook plans to stick by the girl as she is having his baby, a court was told.
The man was sentenced in the Nelson District Court on Monday after earlier admitting a charge of sexual connection with a young person under 16 years.
Judge Tony Zohrab said the pair met through a mutual associate and started chatting through Facebook and then through phone calls. The girl told the man at an early stage she was 14.
The couple started having sex on a daily basis which was consensual and girl said she never felt pressured into having intercourse.
The sex stopped in December after the girl discovered she was five weeks pregnant, and CYFS was contacted.
The man contacted police in January and was upfront and co-operative with them and admitted knowing she was only 14.
Since he found out the girl was pregnant he had gone to some lengths to support her and had offered financial support and purchased items to assist her.
The victim had said while it was not her choice to become pregnant she had come to terms with the situation.
Judge Zohrab said the couple had discussed a future where they stayed together in a supervised non-sexual relationship, until such a time it would be legal when the relationship would be able to continue.
Judge Zohrab said the man’s actions and the pregnancy had impacted on the victim, her education and her family.
The girl’s father had read a victim impact statement to the court in which he said that the offending had placed severe stress on him and his family. He had mixed emotions about the offender and had difficulty trusting him which had put him at odds with some of the other family members, leaving him feeling, stressed confused and upset.
Judge Zohrab said the law about underage sex was in place to protect young girls from older men, but also to protect themselves as they were not emotionally mature enough to cope with being sexually active.
Judge Zohrab said the age difference between the two was an aggravating factor as was the fact that the man knew the girl was only 14 right from the start.
It was not a case where her age was sprung on him.
The man had also failed to take precautions which had led to the girl getting pregnant.
The man’s support of the girl and the fact the relationship was consensual were factors in his favour.
He sentenced the man to six months community detention, with a curfew of 7pm to 5am. He was also sentenced to six months supervision and 180 hours community work.
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