IT WAS a secret relationship with a minor and sexually explicit text messages that saw Gradey Fraser Gill in the docks of the Rockhampton District Court today facing possible jail time.
The court heard the Gladstone brick labourer met a 15-year-old girl through a mutual friend at a party in November last year and struck up a relationship with the teen which lasted until her 16th birthday in February.
Crown prosecutor Samantha O'Rouke told the court that Gill, 21, and the minor exchanged 3483 SMS messages and calls during the months they were in contact.
"A number of messages were exchanged that showed Gill was aware of the victim's age," Ms O'Rouke said.
"On December 4 the victim told Gill to 'wait until I'm 16' at which Gill replied 'When you turn 16 I'm going to tell the world we're together'. "Gill would send sexually explicit content to the victim and encouraged her to perform oral sex on him and that he wanted to have sex with her. The offending is against a child so it is serious in nature."
The court heard police became aware of the relationship when the girl was interviewed by police for an unrelated matter and the messages were found on her phone.
Defence barrister Jordan Ahlstrand argued to the court that the teenage girl was 15 years and 10 and a half months old at the time of the offence and that no harm had come to the minor as a result of the relationship.
Judge Michael Burnett however warned Gill that the offence was serious and that he should reassess his relationships with people in the future.
"It would seem from the messages that not only did you engage in sexually grooming behaviour but that you understood that she was 15 years old," Judge Burnett said.
"There was a five-year age gap and you knew the texting was wrong. It can be seen in part that you were dealing with someone who was emotionally vulnerable."
Gill pleaded guilty to the one charge of grooming a child under 16 in the Gladstone District Court last month and was sentenced in Rockhampton today to nine months' imprisonment wholly suspended on a good behaviour bond for a period for two years.