A NSW man caught grooming who he thought was a 13-year-old girl for sex did so because he was lonely and has the mental capacity of a child himself, his lawyer has argued as sentencing looms.
Timothy George Kemp, of Maitland, was arrested at Waratah Railway Station in May 2020, after arranging to meet “the girl” after two months of conversation.
Kemp, 37, had been sent a social media friend request from an undercover operative, and struck up a conversation, which his lawyer says quickly turned sexual.
But she argued Kemp's offending was caused by his intellectual disability and alcoholism.
He was isolated – an “outcast” – since he was a child and did not know how to cope in normal society.
“Mr Kemp's world at the time of this offending was very small,” she told the District Court in Newcastle.
“He told you in his affidavit, 'It was nice, it felt good to have someone to talk to'.”
Further, his criminal behaviour wasn't characterised by predation and deceit, she said.
“There was nothing sophisticated about this.
“He was not actively on the internet, seeking out children by entering chat rooms and striking up conversations.”
He “took the bait” of the undercover operatives.
“(It was) a bit of attention that he just did not walk away from.”
He has since undergone an alcohol detox and obtained NDIS support that would help him function in the community, she said.
He's also been punished by the community – yelled at from cars and called a pedophile – which served a deterrence to him reoffending.
Due to the lesser seriousness of his offending, his vulnerability in prison and the opportunities for rehabilitation in the community, he should be spared a jail sentence.
It's not appropriate to make an example out of him, she said.
“(In) interpersonal relationships, he functions as an eight-and-a-half-year-old … coping skills, a 12-year-old, written (communication) eight years, one month.”
“He's just not the appropriate vehicle to send a message to the community.”
However, the Crown argued a custodial sentence is appropriate.
“The messages that were sent have a highly graphic sexual nature,” the prosecutor said.
“The Crown respectfully submits (the argument made about his intellectual age) doesn't necessarily line up with the material that was sent by the offender.”
He will be sentenced on Wednesday.