One Australian man has been jailed while another has walked from court after they had sex with a 14-year-old girl they met via the MySpace Internet site.
The Victorian County Court heard Steven Hondros, 19, contacted the victim and her friend through the Internet social networking site MySpace.
Hondros and his friend Ravinder Singh, 31, later picked up the victim and her friend from a train station before going to Singh's home in suburban Lalor in September last year.
The girls had been drinking from a bottle of alcohol in Singh's car and after they arrived at Singh's house, Singh had consensual sex with the 14-year-old girl.
Hondros also had consensual sex with her.
The court was told the victim had told Hondros earlier that day she was under 16.
Her friend told police she and the victim had told the accused they were both 16.
The prosecution conceded the accused men did not deliberately intend to have sex with an underage girl.
But Judge Meryl Sexton said they were reckless in determining whether the girl was under 16.
She said they engaged in a serious breach of trust and it was their responsibility to ensure they acted within the law.
Judge Sexton said the law was intended to protect young girls too immature to make proper choices about sexual activity and deal with the consequences.
For this reason the law protected them from themselves and adults who may take advantage of them, she said.
Judge Sexton said the victim was now suffering from the emotional impact of having sex with the accused, despite it being consensual.
She said she had nightmares and her confidence had deteriorated.
"She gets upset, feels guilty, has difficulty sleeping and trouble concentrating at school," Judge Sexton said.
Singh, who pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual penetration of a child under 16, was sentenced to two and a half years' jail, to serve a minimum of 10 months.
The judge acknowledged his tragic personal history and that his judgment at the time of his offending was impaired due to post traumatic stress disorder.
Hondros, of Thomastown, pleaded guilty to one count of sexual penetration of a child under 16.
He received a wholly suspended 15-month jail term after the judge found there were exceptional circumstances in his case including his youth, admissions, willingness to give evidence against his co-accused, and the narrow age gap between him and his victim.
The judge noted that in pleading guilty, the pair had foregone a chance of acquittal based on a defence that they reasonably believed the victim was over 16.
Each of the accused is now a registered sex offender.