A man who committed serious sexual offences against multiple vulnerable girls, the youngest aged nine, has been sentenced to a period of eight years' imprisonment.
"Our community and vulnerable young people must be protected from predators like you," Judge Mark Dean said during sentencing at the County Court in Ballarat on Monday.
The man, who The Courier cannot name for legal reasons, committed sexual assault and sexual penetration against three girls under 16 between July 2018 and July 2019.
He groomed four other girls during that time.
He offered one of the victims, a 13-year-old girl, money in exchange for her Snapchat details and sent her explicit photos of himself.
Our community and vulnerable young people must be protected from predators like you.Judge Mark Dean
He asked two girls to perform oral sex on him in exchange for food and cigarettes, sexually assaulted another and also assaulted another girl in his car.
The girl's mother made a report to police and police found child pornography material including photos and videos of the victim on his phone.
The man was released on bail at the Supreme Court in January 2019 with conditions not to use social media or contact the victims.
Police executed a warrant in July 2019 and found the man had been contacting the victim asking her to withdraw her statement to police.
He communicated with other girls via Snapchat and requested they send sexualised messages or meet for sex.
He told police he was 'not able to control himself'.
Judge Dean said the offending was committed against impressionable and immature young girls groomed for the purpose of criminal offending.
"The victim impact statements detailed the trauma your offending has caused and their schooling and family lives were disrupted," he said.
"The full impact is yet to be experienced by them."
The Ballarat-born man, now 25, was 22 and 23 at the time of the offending and has a young daughter.
Judge Dean said he accepted the man was a youthful offender and his mental health issues and personal circumstances were mitigating factors.
He said he was an immature and vulnerable young man.
He said he viewed the man's prospects for rehabilitation as reasonable with supervision in the community and sex offender programs.
The man was sentenced to a total term of imprisonment of eight years, with a three-year and six-month non parole period.
He has served 780 days in custody.
Judge Dean said if not for the man's plea of guilty, he would have imposed a sentence of 10 years and six months' imprisonment with a six-year non-parole period.
The man pleaded guilty to sexual assault of a child under 16, four counts of sexual penetration of a child under 16 and two counts of possessing child abuse material.
He also pleaded guilty to two counts of using a carriage service for child pornography, attempting to perverse the course of justice and six counts of grooming for sexual conduct with a child.
Affected by this story? There is help available.
You can phone the Ballarat Centre Against Sexual Assault, in Sebastopol, on 5320 3933, or free-call the crisis care line 24 hours on 1800 806 292.
Or phone Lifeline on 13 11 14, the Blue Knot Foundation on 1300 657 380, or Relationships Australia on 1300 364 277.
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