A judge has declined to convict a teen for having consensual sex with a girl more than four years his junior, saying the ''legal and social'' consequences of the young man being branded a child sex offender were too great.
The 18-year-old, who cannot be named because he was just 17 when the pair had sex, escaped with a non-conviction order yesterday and a 12-month good-behaviour order.
''I am convinced that the legal and social consequences for [the offender] of recording a conviction against him in [this] case far outweigh the requirements of punishment, denunciation and deterrence, both personal and general,'' acting Justice John Nield said.
The ACT Supreme Court heard that if convicted, the teenager would be placed on the national child sexual offenders registry for seven years.
The young man pleaded guilty to having sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl in September last year, when they were in a consensual relationship.
She fell pregnant and doctors reported the matter to police, who arrested the father.
The victim subsequently had the pregnancy terminated.
The court this afternoon heard the boy broke off their relationship when he realised she was four years and one month younger than him.
But they resumed seeing each other after she sent him a message on Facebook to rekindle their relationship.
They were at a mutual friend's house in September when she told him she had a present to give him - ''going away sex'' - before he left for the United States on holidays.
There is a statutory defence available to a person accused of having sexual intercourse with a child younger than 16 if the age difference between the pair is no more than two years. But in this case, the four years and one month gap fell outside that window.
At a sentencing proceeding in the Supreme Court earlier this year, counsel for the defendant urged Justice Nield to hand down a non-conviction order.
They argued he would otherwise be placed on the register.
But the Crown opposed the move, arguing it was a serious crime.
The judge noted the youth had an unblemished character, the girl initiated the sexual contact, the intercourse was consensual and only one sexual act occurred after he became aware of her true age.
He also accepted the offence was a serious one, the young man failed to use a condom and that the absence of a victim impact statement did not mean the girl had not suffered.
But Justice Nield pointed out the defendant did not prey on the girl, exploit any advantage or force himself on her.
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