A Junee man who used social media to encourage a seven-year-old to send him sexually explicit images has been jailed.
Paul Douglas Halbisch, 30, pleaded guilty to using a carriage service to procure a child under 16 years for sexual activity and using a carriage service to solicit child abuse material.
During a sentencing hearing on Friday, documents tendered to the court revealed Halbisch contacted the seven-year-old victim in February 2019 via the social media platform BigO.
He had multiple interactions with the victim on the site before switching to Discord, allowing for voice, video, and text chat between users. Halbisch asked the young girl for pictures multiple times, once saying, "could just take a picture of belly down haha take off your underwear, oh no, I'm jk".
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On March 20, the victim asked Halbisch to leave her alone. Later that day, her parents found out and reported the matter to the police. A covert operative from South Australia took on the victim's online identity and continued communicating with Halbisch, but there was no evidence of further offending.
Police arrested Halbisch and in an interrogation, he did not respond to any questions but later said he wanted to be honest.
In the second interview, he admitted to communicating with the victim, receiving images and participating in a voice call where he sent messages encouraging her to participate in sexual activity.
In handing down his sentence, Judge Gordon Lerve said it must have been apparent to Halbisch that the victim was young.
"The procuring offence is always made more serious by the victim being a real child who is young," he said.
Judge Lerve said the victim had been "hyper-vigilant" since the incidents.
He also referenced the comment made by Halbisch at a hearing, where he told the court "I'm incredibly sorry for what I've done to her and her family".
The court heard Halbisch has a close relationship with his mother but witnessed emotional abuse towards her from a partner. He was also bullied at school.
"The offender told [a psychologist] that he considered himself to be heterosexual, and he denied being attracted to children," Judge Lerve said. "Given the offender's evidence, the fact he now appears to have insight into his offending, the contrition he had shown and lack of prior record, I am prepared to find on balance that the offender is unlikely to reoffend."
Halbisch was sentenced to three years and nine months in jail, with a non-parole period of two years and three months.
The sentence was backdated to commence on June 24, 2021. He is eligible for release from September 2023.
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