Depraved Gympie man sent sexual messages to 14y.o. girl
A 25-year-old Gympie man will be behind bars until May next year after attempting to lure a police officer posing as a 14-year-old girl into a sexual relationship through Facebook three years ago.
Joshua Ronald Leafe, 25, was found guilty of using electronic communication to attempt to procure a child to engage in a sexual act after a trial in the Gympie District Court last week.
Leafe was 22 when he committed the offence some time in 2017.
The trial continued part-heard during last Wednesday's proceedings, when the court called upon one final witness before the prosecution and defence closed their cases.
The jury retired to consider their verdict just before 1pm Wednesday afternoon, then delivered their sentence shortly before 4:30pm.
The sentencing carried over to Thursday afternoon, with the prosecution calling Leafe's behaviour protracted, persistent and manipulative.
Judge Glen Cash said Leafe's conduct was "sickening", detailing offences that consisted of adding and sending messages to the Facebook account of a person disguised as a 14-year-old girl.
"It was a police officer behind the account, but you didn't know that," Judge Cash said.
"The messages you sent were appalling, they clearly indicated your intention to have a 14-year-old girl engage in sexual activity with you."
Judge Cash said Leafe propositioned the girl's account for sexual intercourse, as well as sending messages about oral and anal sex.
He said Leafe's behaviour was "strongly to be deterred" because it had occurred on the internet and social media, which presented "a great opportunity for people like (Leafe) to corrupt children".
It was noted that Leafe, who had no previous criminal convictions, had been working on an Amamoor farm "for some years now" and was highly regarded by his employer.
Judge Cash said a local police officer had also been prepared to speak well of him and his contribution to the community.
Leafe was sentenced to 18 months' jail suspended after 6 months, with one day he had spent in custody awaiting sentence declared as time served.