A Melbourne man who drugged and had sex with a young boy he met via the Grindr dating app has been jailed for at least two years and three months.
Andrew Castles, 28, admitted he met the child – a 14-year-old transgender boy under state car – in July 2017.
The boy’s Grindr profile said he was 18, but after talking to Castles online he admitted he was only 14.
The boy told Castles he wanted to meet for a sexual encounter and to take drugs, and Castles agreed to pick him up down the street from the child’s care facility, “to avoid being seen”.
Castles gave the child a moderate 0.5ml dose of GHB before sexually penetrating him over a three-hour period.
At one stage, the condom broke, but Castles continued to penetrate the child.
The victim was then given 0.7ml of GHB.
Castles also took a photo of the child asleep naked on his couch, assigning the image to his mobile number profile.
He later told forensic psychologist Patrick Newton that he was younger than the boy when he first started having sex with men, and “I thought it would be safer if he learnt with me”.
Castles later described his offending as a “dark episode of my life”.
Defence barrister James Westmore previously argued that “consent has been clearly given”, with the child seeking out sexual encounters on Grindr.
But on Friday, County Court of Victoria Judge Paul Higham said the boy’s consent “cannot be viewed by the court as meaningful”.
“The online world is filled with temptation. And when we go onto the online world, Mr Castles, we must take with us our moral compass.
“That means we must take with us our sense of what is right and what is wrong. And you knew your conduct was wrong,” Judge Higham said during sentencing.
“Your initial reaction when told of your victim’s age was ‘oh s***’. That was the right reaction.
“You were driven by your desire, by your own sexual gratification.”
Castles previously pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual penetration of a child under 16, supplying a drug of dependence to a child, and producing child abuse material.
Castles, who has been on bail, was sentenced to three years and 10 months’ imprisonment, with a non-parole period of two years and three months.