A CHILD sex offender has been jailed for more than nine years after he abused five young girls for his own sexual gratification.
Luke Peter Joseph Coughlan, 43, was sentenced in the County Court on Tuesday after he pleaded guilty to 11 charges, including grooming a child under 16 and sexual penetration of a child under 16.
The court heard Coughlan abused at least five teenage girls between 2013 and 2019.
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The 43-year-old met the girls through online chat sites like Omegle, before telling the teens to photograph and film themselves engaging in degrading sexual acts and self harm.
He then instructed the girls to send the child abuse material to him. There were hundreds of photos and videos of the victims and unidentified underage girls found on his devices.
Coughlan also travelled to meet up with the girls who were based in the United States, Western Australia, and northern Victoria.
On one occasion in 2013, Coughlan met up with the American girl and videotaped the sexual abuse.
He also repeatedly sexually assaulted a young girl in northern Victoria over two years.
Judge David Sexton said the crimes needed to be viewed as "extremely serious" sexual offending that would have a long-lasting detrimental effect on the victims.
Judge Sexton said Coughlan knew the victims were young and vulnerable, and he exploited them for his own sexual gratification.
The judge also noted with one of the victims in particular, Coughlan was menacing and controlling as he threatened to self-harm if she did not respond to him.
In his sentencing remarks, Judge Sexton noted the psychological material showed Coughlan was not diagnosed with paedophilia and instead was looking for partners that he could dominate and control.
The judge said that did not reduce Coughlan's moral culpability because he still sought out the vulnerable young girls.
Judge Sexton said he accepted Coughlan had entered a guilty plea at an early stage which ensured the victims did not need to give evidence to the court.
The judge said the plea was also valuable given the delays in the criminal justice system due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Judge Sexton said he would consider Coughlan's rehabilitation prospects as reasonable, but that would be dependent on the 43-year-old engaging with offence-specific programs.
The judge said he ultimately needed to ensure Coughlan and others in the community were deterred from committing such serious offences against children.
Coughlan was convicted and sentenced to nine years and three months in jail, with a non-parole period of six years and nine months. His 763 days of pre-sentence detention were reckoned as already served.
Coughlan will be on the sex offenders register for the rest of his life.
If he did not plead guilty, Coughlan would have been jailed for 13 years and six months with a non-parole period of 10 years.
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