DPP v Castles [2019] VCC 229

Sentence summary: child sex offence

A man who met a teenager on a dating app before drugging and sexually assaulting him while taking photos was jailed.

Andrew Castles, 28, pleaded guilty to two charges of sexual penetration of a child under the age of 16, one charge of supplying a drug of dependence to a child and one charge of producing child abuse material.

The offender also admitted to the summary charge of using a drug of dependence.

He was sentenced to three years and ten months jail with a non-parole period of two years and three months.

The victim was a 14-year-old biological female who identified as a male and was living under the care of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Using the Grindr dating app, the offender met the victim, who had a profile which indicated he was 18 years old but later revealed his true age to the offender.

The pair agreed to meet and went back to the offender’s home where he supplied the teenager with gamma-hydroxybutyrate acid or ‘GHB’ while also using some himself.

The offender then proceeded to have sexual intercourse with the victim several times and then took photos of the victim after he had fallen asleep.

The sentencing judge said children below the age of 16 cannot actively give consent and laws are in place to protect children, even if they are of the belief they are ready for a sexual encounter.

"Sexual activity between adults and persons under the age of 16 can have a lasting impact upon the emotional and psychological well-being of the victims of such offending," the judge said.

Mitigating factors included an early guilty plea, a strong medical work history, a lack of prior convictions and the offender’s own traumatic childhood.

The Court heard expert medical advice that indicated the offender turned to drug use to cope with repeated breakdown in relationships and his own identity crisis.

"It appears that in reaction to relationship problems, you began to resort to more illicit drug use, particularly methamphetamine to elevate your mood and to escape from those problems," the judge said.

"Of course, such drug use merely served to undermine your mental clarity and thus exacerbate the very problems which you sought to escape."

However, a period of incarceration was necessary considering the gravity of the offending, the Court heard.

When considering the sentence, the presiding judge said there was a concern with the offender’s moderate risk of re-offending and false sense of understanding consent.

"Those cognitive distortions, that wrong thinking, enabled you to justify to yourself, actions and conduct that you knew to be wrong," the judge said.

The offender was placed on the Sex Offender Register or 15 years.

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Page last updated: 26 August 2020