A Melbourne man who gave a 14-year-old boy he met on Grindr the drug GHB and sexually abused him has been jailed for at least two years.
Andrew Castles, 28, admitted he met the child, who prosecutors said was a vulnerable transgender boy in state care, in 2017 through the Grindr app, AAP reported.
The boy’s profile stated he was 18, but in messages exchanged on the app Castles found out the boy was only 14.
A week later, the boy told Castles he wanted to meet to have sex and take drugs, and the man agreed to pick up the child down the street from his care facility to “avoid being seen”.
Castles drove the victim to his home and then gave the child a moderate 0.5ml dose of GHB before sexually abusing him, the court heard.
When the child was sleeping, Castles took a naked photo of him and saved it to his phone.
Castles told a forensic psychologist that he started having sex with men when he was younger than the boy and “I thought it would be safer if he learnt with me,” the court heard.
The man later described the offences as a “dark episode of my life”.
The man’s lawyer had earlier argued “consent has been clearly given” as the child was seeking sexual encounters on Grindr.
County Court of Victoria Judge Paul Higham said at a sentencing hearing on Friday (March 1) that consent could not have been “viewed by the court as meaningful”.
Judge Higham told Castles that “when we go onto the online world… we must take with us our moral compass.”
“That means we must take with us our sense of what is right and what is wrong. And you knew your conduct was wrong,” Judge Higham said.
“Your initial reaction when told of your victim’s age was, ‘Oh s–t’. That was the right reaction.
“You were driven by your desire, by your own sexual gratification.”
Castles had pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual penetration of a child under 16, supplying a drug of dependence to a child and producing child abuse material.
He was sentenced to three years and 10 months in prison, with a non-parole period of two years and three months, and will be placed on the sex offenders register for 15 years.
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