A woman will spend the rest of her life as a registered sex offender after an online friendship with a 14-year-old boy turned sexual.
Rochester woman Andrea Emmerson, 29, pleaded guilty in the County Court in Bendigo to using a carriage service to procure a person under 16 for sexual activity, using a carriage service to transmit indecent communications to a person under 16, using a postal service to send indecent material to a person under 16, and possessing child abuse material.
Emmerson and the victim met through an online game when she was 26 and the victim was 14.
They communicated via multiple platforms and Emmerson later travelled across the country with the intention of meeting the victim.
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Instead, the victim's mother - who had discovered the relationship - met Emmerson, who told her that she was in love with her son, she knew his age, and she knew what she was doing was not right.
When asked whether she would have had sexual contact with the boy had the mother not intervened, she replied she could not say what she would have done.
The boy's mother went to police in her state and told her son to cease contact.
But she later discovered contact had resumed and again went to police, who told her they could not help her.
She then contacted Rochester police, who informed the Joint Anti-Child Exploitation Team.
The boy's mother also discovered items in her son's room, including sex toys sent by Emmerson.
Emmerson was arrested in September last year and made partial admissions to police, telling them she and the victim were best friends; he had initially said he was 17, but she soon realised he was 14; she did not travel to his state for sexual activity; and she did not send him pornographic material or sex toys.
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Messages sent between Emmerson and the victim were sexual in nature, the court heard, and included videos.
It was discovered Emmerson held 71 images of the victim that constituted child abuse material, another image considered to be child abuse material, and 107 images of the victim which were not illegal.
In a victim impact statement read to the court, the boy told of the impact the investigation had had and said he had lost one of his closest friends.
Defence lawyer Julia Kretzenbacher referred to a psychologist's report that stated Emmerson's history skewed her perception of boundaries.
"It wasn't a circumstance where Ms Emmerson went out looking for children online," Ms Kretzenbacher said.
She said Emmerson was still a young person with no prior convictions and had excellent prospects of rehabilitation, as she was removed from the context of her offending and had complied with her strict bail conditions.
The offending did not involve threats or coercion, Ms Kretzenbacher said, there was no concealment of her identity, and the images of the victim were not shared.
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She submitted Judge John Smallwood had the scope to impose a sentence that did not require an immediate term of imprisonment.
Commonwealth prosecutor Laura Monagle submitted the age difference between Emmerson and the victim was significant and the offending continued after Emmerson met the victim's mother.
She said an immediate term of imprisonment was appropriate although the Crown did not seek a non-parole period, meaning a sentence would be less than three years.
Judge John Smallwood acknowledged the circumstances of the offending were unusual for these sorts of crimes.
He ordered Emmerson be assessed for a community corrections order and adjourned sentencing to a later date.
But regardless of her sentence, Emmerson's crimes mean she will remain on the sex offenders register for life.
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