Morwell sex offender jailed

A 22 year-old Morwell man has been sentenced to a maximum of three years in prison over eight sexual offence charges involving five teenage girls.

Xavier Christian Croft-Smith appeared in the Latrobe Valley County Court on Monday after pleading guilty to persistently abusing a child under the age of 16 between March 2010 and July 2011.

He also pleaded guilty to seven charges of sexual penetration of four different girls between August 2011 and August 2012.

Judge John Carmody sentenced Croft-Smith to a minimum of two years in prison and deducted the more than a year he had already served in pre-sentence detention.

Mr Carmody said Croft-Smith’s early guilty plea in June “demonstrated remorse” and relieved his victims from having to give evidence.

He took into account Croft-Smith’s intellectual disability and acknowledged it could make time in prison difficult, however he said in committing the offences Croft-Smith “displayed guile and cunning”.

Mr Carmody cited Croft-Smith’s decision to continue offending after being interviewed by police in relation to one of the victims in 2011.

“(Your victims) were vulnerable people you sought out for your own sexual gratification,” Mr Carmody said.

The girls ranged from 13 to 15 years old at the time of the offences and the court heard on 26 August, Croft-Smith knew they were underage when he pursued a sexual relationship with them.

He had communicated with some of the girls via text message and social networking website Facebook and, in arranging to meet up with them, had friends write messages for him because he was illiterate.

Croft-Smith will now be registered as a sex offender.