Youth worker jailed for sex 'joke'

A YOUTH worker who propositioned a 15-year-old girl for sex told police it was a joke that had spiralled out of control.

The teenage girl was in the care of the Department of Child Safety, and the 22-year-old man was employed as a part-time youth worker, when she texted him asking for a lift in the Rockhampton district in 2009.

The man texted he wanted something in return and suggested she have sex with him in the car.

When she refused he suggested oral sex, which she also refused.

He yesterday pleaded guilty in Rockhampton Magistrates Court to using a carriage service to expose a child to indecent matters and breaching bail.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Joe Aboud said the case had been before the court for two years as the man had failed to appear in court for the matter twice.

Sgt Aboud said the man abused his position of "trust and authority".

He said the man knew the teenager, her circumstances and her age.

"He knew he was outside the boundaries ... to protect vulnerable children," Sgt Aboud said.

The defendant's lawyer, Jack Blackburn, said his client had been employed as a youth worker for a few months and had received little formal training.

Mr Blackburn said the man was too drunk to drive when he texted and meant the message as "banter".

He said his client and the teenager used to "joke around with each other all the time".

"She made fun of his weight ... they had this kind of relationship," Mr Blackburn said.

He said the man now understood the text was "inappropriate".

Mr Blackburn said his client had been unable to tell his family, but had told his fiancee, who said their engagement depended on whether he received jail time.

But Magistrate Barry Cosgrove was not swayed by the plea and sentenced the man to 12 months in prison, with a parole eligibility date of November 28, 2011.

The teen and the man cannot be named to protect her identity.

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