A 30-year-old man sexually groomed a 15-year-old girl by sending her about 1300 sometimes sexually explicit text messages in less than four weeks, a judge has been told in Napier District Court.
The text-bombing was revealed yesterday when Aaron Peter Hartley stood in the dock before Judge Bridget Mackintosh, eyes down, hands clasped, holding back tears as he was sentenced after admitting sexual grooming, sending her indecent material and indecently assaulting her.
He was sentenced to 11 months' home detention, with supervision continuing for another six months, including restrictions on use of cellphones or other communication devices.
Defence counsel Eric Forster said although his actions were "despicable", Hartley had no previous sexual convictions and showed remorse for his actions.
According to a psychological assessment, Hartley had "obsessive tendencies" which explained the excessive number of text messages sent between November 27 and Christmas Eve last year.
Forster said Hartley was extremely remorseful of his actions and had been seeking appropriate help since police intervention last year.
A summary said Hartley found the girl's cellphone number through social media and texted her: "Hey chick xx."
Crown Prosecutor Fiona Cleary said despite knowing the victim was underage, Hartley continued with a "barrage of text messages", some of which were explicit.
Cleary said there was clear communication from the victim that she was 15 and not 16 until 2018.
She said Hartley continued to "harass" the victim despite knowing her personal circumstances and his actions represented "high end grooming behaviour".
Hartley sent texts to the victim insisting that they "meet up".
The Crown said the victim felt "pressured" and "blackmailed" by Hartley, who remained persistent in asking her to meet for sexual contact.
On December 12 she replied saying "well if I don't meet you you're going to f***** tell my mum."
On the same day, they met in farmland a short distance from the victim's address where Hartley rubbed the victim's breast and crotch area over clothing.
Police were contacted after the girl blocked Hartley's cellphone number on December 24.
Judge Bridget Mackintosh took into account that it was Hartley's first sexual offence as well as that he was going through a hugely "stressful" time in his life.
"Rather than seek help, you resorted to this situation," she said.
Hartley admitted his actions and was receptive in receiving help from the appropriate authorities, in which he was making progress, he said.
He always turned up on time for his counselling sessions, understood the impact he had on the family and said he was remorseful.