A PERTH man who asked a 13-year-old girl if she wanted to play underwater rugby with him, then indecently touched her, has been spared an immediate jail term.
Andrew Joseph Buchold, 49, approached the girl while she was swimming laps at Craigie Leisure Centre in February.
He invited her to play with him, then hugged her thighs and touched her inappropriately with his face, the WA District Court heard on Tuesday.
Buchold later said he knew it was wrong and he needed help.
Judge Philip McCann likened the offending to having an “age inappropriate crush” rather than trying to groom a child for overt sexual activity.
Although he did not consider Buchold to be a pedophile, Judge McCann said his actions were clearly wrong and general deterrence was a significant sentencing factor.
“The offending lacked a sinisterness and abusiveness that is usually found in the public groping of a girl,” he said.
Judge McCann accepted Buchold was remorseful and previously of good character.
“I think imprisonment would destroy Mr Buchold,” he said.
But the judge also noted the girl was distressed by what had happened.
Buchold, who was supported in court by his wife, pleaded guilty to indecently dealing with a child.
He was sentenced to nine months in prison, suspended for 12 months, with supervision and program requirements.