Eaglehawk Facebook predator jailed

An Eaglehawk man in his 40s who used Facebook to groom a 14-year-old Mooroopna schoolgirl for sex was jailed yesterday.

Stephen Gillick, 46, pleaded guilty to committing an indecent act with a child under 16, sexual penetration of a child under 16 and using a carriage service to procure a child under 16 for a sexual act.

Shepparton County Court on Thursday heard that in September 2010 Gillick randomly requested the girl’s friendship on the social networking site using a fake identity, telling her lies to get her to feel sorry for him and gain her trust.

The court heard Gillick asked the girl to meet him in person at John Gray Oval in Mooroopna after school.

Gillick, who told the girl he was 36 or 37, maintained contact with the victim through Facebook and a mobile phone he bought her.

They met often at a place they called ‘‘our spot’’ at the back of the trotting track at John Gray Oval to kiss and cuddle, the court heard.

But the sexual contact increased, with Gillick picking the victim up from a corner shop in Mooroopna and taking her to places in Mooroopna and Shepparton.

In December 2010 they stayed at a Mooroopna motel and had sex, the court heard.

On one occasion in January 2011, Gillick told the receptionist at the motel he was going to spend the day with his daughter.

The girl and Gillick were seen months earlier in an outside pool at Aquamoves in Shepparton by the girl’s sister and mother, who confronted him.

He wrote to the girl’s mother on Facebook, apologising and telling her they were friends, but continued to contact the 14-year-old, the court heard.

Crown prosecutor James Fitzgerald told the court the offences were grave and serious.

He said Gillick used the internet to groom the girl, and he lied to her mother.

The court heard Gillick was ashamed and regretful of his actions. A letter of apology to the victim was read to the court, in which Gillick said he was sickened by what he had done.

Judge David Parsons sentenced Gillick to a total of six years and six months’ jail, with a non-parole period of four years.