Child grooming accused given family visits

A MACLEAN man charged with the online grooming of a child has successfully applied to have his bail conditions amended so he can see his own children.

The man was placed on strict bail conditions that prevented him seeing them after his arrest by Strike Force Trawler detectives at Yamba on May 24.

He has been charged with using a carriage service to groom persons under 16, and police are expected to allege in court that from November 8-25, 2016, he engaged in numerous sexually-explicit conversations with a person he believed was a 15-year-old girl. He was in fact communicating with strike force officers, who searched a Maclean home following the arrest.

In Grafton Local Court yesterday, the 37-year-old requested several changes to bail conditions to allow him to contact and be with his three children, under third party supervision.

The defence solicitor noted there had been no complaints about his conduct towards his own offspring and that he had no criminal history.

This request was opposed by the Commonwealth, who argued given the nature of the charges there was a bail concern to do with young people generally.

The prosecutor added that the Crown case against the accused was considered "extremely strong". It was mentioned in court that the likelihood of a custodial sentence for this type of offence where there is no prior history of offending, was 50%.

But Magistrate Denes believed that with supervision, there was no reason why he could not see or contact his children.

"Whilst they are serious allegations and there are clearly bail concerns about the protection of the community at large and young people given the nature of the allegation, in my view those risks and concerns can be mitigated if his (contact) is supervised," she said.

Amendments were made to a condition that he was not to access the internet for any purpose - to allow him online for employment and internet banking.

The 37-year-old must report daily to Maclean Police Station, have no internet connected at home and is not to attempt to communicate with any person under the age of 16, apart from his own children. He is also subject to an Apprehended Violence Order.

He is due in Grafton Local Court on August 8.

The maximum sentence for grooming a child under the age of 16 is 12 years.

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