Ararat man faces Ballarat Magistrates Court accused of grooming 14-year-old girl

A young intellectually disabled man charged after an investigation into child exploitation material has been refused bail.

The Joint Anti Child Exploitation Team (JACET) charged Travis Walker in May with two Commonwealth offences, including procuring a child under 16 for sexual activity and using a carriage service to groom a child under 16.

Police allege the 22-year-old Ararat man used an online messaging app to start conversations with a fictional 14-year-old girl over three days in April, 2018.

A bail application hearing at the Ballarat Magistrates Court on Thursday was told Walker allegedly told the girl he was 20 and he would like to go on a date with her.

When the girl asked what they would do on the date, Walker allegedly replied he would have sex with her.

He allegedly told the girl he was masturbating over her and asked her if she wanted to see him naked. He then allegedly sent the girl naked pictures of himself. 

The court was told Walker allegedly blocked the girl from the messaging app on April 10 after he told her he didn’t like himself.

Detectives arrested Walker at his Ararat home on May 15 and seized his mobile phone.

He told police during an interview he knew he had gone overboard when he spoke with the child and if he had met her, he would have tried being her friend.

Defence barrister Angie Wong said her client, who lives in supported accommodation, should be bailed because his sexual conduct was limited to two days, there would be a delay in court proceedings and he was vulnerable. 

But magistrate Gregory Robinson was not satisfied compelling reasons for bail held sufficient weight.

“The offending against what he thought was a 14-year-old child demonstrates some ability for him to connive to keep his offending a secret to what he believed to be the parents of the 14-year-old,” Mr Robinson said.

“He knows those actions are wrong but he has the capacity to keep his offending a secret.”

Walker, who also faces 11 state charges, was remanded in custody until October.