Grooming of teen puts man, 26, in jail

An Eltham man who groomed a 13-year-old schoolgirl victim through Facebook has been jailed for 34 months for sexual offending against her.

Gideon Tobias Christian, 26, was sentenced on two charges of sexual connection with a young person, one charge of indecent assault and a sexual grooming charge when he appeared in the Hawera District Court yesterday.

Crown prosecutor Andrew Britton said Christian had groomed his victim via Facebook and text messaging. Although they did have consensual sex, once in August 2013 and again in September 2013, the high level of premeditation used by Christian was of particular note.

"Sexual grooming is a heavily aggravating factor requiring a stern sentence," said Mr Britton, seeking a starting point of four years' imprisonment.

Defence counsel Rajan Rai said his client had not been in trouble before and had admitted to the offending, which he asked to be taken into account.

Judge Allan Roberts said Christian had met his victim in July last year at his work.

He said the physical interaction between Christian and his victim started with kissing before becoming more sexually oriented, including the victim sending sexually explicit photographs of herself to the defendant.

Judge Roberts said while Christian was on bail for charges of grooming and sexual connection he breached his conditions by meeting the victim again, where he performed an indecent act on her.

He said Christian had told his probation officer he did not become aware of the victim's true age until later on in their relationship.

"But, she was 13, she was impressionable and she was vulnerable," Judge Roberts said.

He said the girl still struggled with her feelings of guilt over Christian's arrest. "In some part she feels responsibility for the relationship and your arrest."

The harm caused to the victim, the age gap between the pair and the grooming of the victim by Christian were all considered to be aggravating factors of the offending, the judge said.

In jailing Christian, Judge Roberts gave him credit for his guilty pleas as well as a two-month concession for his previously clean record.

Judge Roberts also issued Christian with a first-strike warning.

Taranaki Daily News