Man found not guilty of grooming while chatting online with police officer posing as a teenager
A man from Adelaide has been found not guilty of child grooming offenses after he was arrested for communicating with an undercover police officer posing as a 14-year-old boy in an online chat group.
- 28-year-old man arrested after chatting online with undercover police officer
- He was found not guilty of two sexual offenses against children
- The trial judge found the man did not necessarily believe he was chatting with a 14-year-old
The 28-year-old was tried in Adelaide District Court on two counts of communication for far-fetched purposes with intent to make a child vulnerable to sexual activity.
During the trial, prosecutors alleged the man had sexualized conversations with the undercover officer on the Kik messaging app and requested to meet him for sexual activity.
The court heard that the man had joined a group on the app called “Gay Adelaide Adolescents” under the screen name “Prince Cool”.
The man reportedly posted a message to the group asking, “Is anyone up for some fun?” to which the plainclothes policeman replied.
During the trial, the officer referred to his username as JPO-02.
“After that there are clear references in the prosecution file to the sexual activity the accused intends to have with JPO-02 and numerous requests for photos of JPO’s body. 02, including a photo of her lips, and information regarding JPO- 02’s physique, “Judge Joana Fuller said.
The court heard that the accused had had numerous conversations with “the boy” before asking to meet him on a Thursday after school.
Prosecutors alleged that a few weeks later the accused told JPO-02 to come to his house “now” and when JPO-02 said he couldn’t, he asked for his address.
The court heard when the undercover officer told the accused that his mother would get “mental” if he came, the accused asked him to send him a “body photo” and then said: “Send me something, anything ”.
Judge Fuller said there were other reunion requests and the accused told JPO-02 not to wear his school uniform because he was still a minor.
“JPO-02 promises to meet him on [May 7, 2019] and tell the accused that he will pretend to be sick and then go to the accused’s house when his mother leaves for work, ”she said.
The man was arrested that day.
“At the time, he was in the bathroom with his cell phone in his hand and the Kik app was open,” Justice Fuller said.
The accused thought it was a “ farce ”
In a subsequent interview with the police, the accused stated that he thought the conversations were a “farce” and that he “was totally, like didn’t want to do anything (sic) … because he was 14 years old “.
“The accused said that even though he had met the JPO-02, he never thought about sexual activity because it did not fall under” his “criteria” and he “did not” do any activity. physical with children, “” Justice Fuller said.
The man told police he had been a teacher in India and knew his “duty”.
In finding the accused not guilty on both counts, Judge Fuller said she was not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused believed JPO-02 to be a child under the age of 17. .
The court heard that the accused asked: “What is your real age?” during conversations.
“I find the accused accurately read the messages from JPO-02 in which he said he was 14, but did not believe him,” Justice Fuller said.
“I cannot rule out the reasonable possibility that … the accused was not sure of the true identity and age of the JPO-02, but was proceeding on the basis that he was communicating with someone who was an adult, whether an adult adolescent or an older person.
He heard when JPO-02 replied, “14 Is that still ok”, the accused immediately replied, “It’s not legal to have sex tho (sic)”.
“I conclude that the accused at no time believed that JPO-02 was 14 years old and suspected that he was an adult, but he was not sure of his age and his true identity.” said Justice Fuller.