Man jailed for having sex with underage girlfriend

ONE man was sent to jail and another received a slap on the wrist for having sex with their 14-year-old girlfriends.

The marked difference between the two cases heard in Maroochydore District Court yesterday was the age of the offenders.

The man who will spend at least six months of a two-year jail sentence behind years was 26 at the time he committed the offences, which included using the internet to procure a child, carnal knowledge of a child under 16 and indecent treatment of a child under 16.

The other man was only 18 when he gained "carnal knowledge" - a legal euphemism for sex - of his 14-year-old girlfriend and had no conviction recorded.

Judge John Robertson heard how the charges against this man could destroy his career options.

One day after he was arrested, he received word he had been accepted into the defence force and he lost the position pending the outcome of the court case.

He was also barred from his surf club, where he had been an active member, and the Navy Cadets program as he had lost his Blue Card.

Both men pleaded guilty. Neither had a criminal history.

In the case of the 18-year-old, the girl's father found out about the offence after reading messages on her iPhone in which she was talking about her concerns about being pregnant.

The couple had met on Facebook in September 2013, started dating in October and engaged in intercourse and oral sex in her bedroom on December 14, when no one was home.

The father read her texts on January 2, 2014 and informed police.

The girl underwent a vaginal examination at Nambour General Hospital which confirmed the intercourse and the man was arrested on January 12 and released on bail.

His mother was in court to support him yesterday.

There was no victim impact statement.

Defence barrister David Crews said the case had resulted in the man "possibly losing his career in the defence force".

Judge Robertson agreed the case had had "a dramatic effect on his life".

He accepted the case involved "lack of judgment due to immaturity and that's not a crime".

"If ever there was a case where exceptional circumstances exist, it is this one," Judge Robertson said.

The man was given six months' probation. No conviction was recorded.

In the other case, the man had been "grooming or shepherding" the girl during their Facebook conversations.

He encouraged her to send photos of her vagina and he sent her a photo of his penis before the intercourse occurred.

The girl's mother found the messages on her iPad and contacted police.

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