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R v Grover [2020] VCC 1988

The offender was convicted following a plea of guilty of one count of using a carriage service to procure a person under 16 years of age and two State offences.  

Nature and Circumstances of Offence: The features that are relevant to assessing seriousness of this offending include its duration, the considerable number of communications over that time and the explicit nature of the sexual discussions engaged in with the person believed to be a 14 year old girl. The persistence, the nature of the communications, the deceptions, the importuning and the escalating in an attempt at a face-to-face meeting with sexual activity as a part of the hoped-for outcome all make this a serious example of this type of offence.  

General Deterrence: General deterrence is the primary sentencing consideration because of the paramount public interest in promoting the protection of children from sexual exploitation by adults. Grooming offences are becoming increasingly prevalent through apps such as Kik. It has long been accepted that cyber grooming offences also carry with them the implicit presumption of harm which also attaches to contact offences.  

COVID-19: The continued threat of COVID-19 in the community entitles the offender to a reduction in sentence. There is a significant reduction in activities and opportunities and visits compared to those that existed before COVID-19. There is also the ever-present fear that if COVID-19 does find its way in, that there is less opportunity to protect yourself, a greater fear of contracting it and the inability to take steps to protect yourself. That is also significant in terms of assessing the value to be given to a plea of guilty.  

Mental Condition: To be eligible for a justice plan, the offender must have recognised intellectual disability and have been accepted as eligible for disability services. Sentencing judge gave offender opportunity to provide such evidence if it existed. None was forthcoming. Evidence presented on plea does not raise realistic possibility of offender having or being diagnosed with an intellectual disability which would justify adjournment for further enquiry. Offender’s difficulty in completing activities of daily life without assistance and support have disappeared. The social and psycho-social matters relied upon previously do not apparently weigh in anymore.  

Offender sentenced to 2 years’ imprisonment to be released on recognisance release order after serving 12 months’ imprisonment.  
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