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Jury retires in Qld cop’s grooming case

A Brisbane jury has retired to consider whether a former police officer is guilty of grooming a 15-year-old he met while investigating nude photos she circulated.

Matthew Paul Hockley admits he added the teenager on Snapchat and sent her messages, but says he was interested in the girl’s mother.

The 33-year-old is accused of grooming the girl while a senior constable working at the Inala Child Protection and Investigation Unit. He has since resigned.

Hockley added the girl on social media days after interviewing her over naked photographs she had circulated.

Over three weeks from July 30, 2019 Hockley and the girl exchanged more than 1000 chat messages and 30 images.

In messages photographed by the girl he wrote, “heading home to get naked and relax” and “rather be chillin with you”.

In another he said, “I was so cold last night. Needed you to warm me up”.

Hockley told the Brisbane District Court the messages were inappropriate, “an overshare” and “a horrible use of language”.

“It’s stupidity, that’s what it is,” he said about one message.

When asked whether he was trying to desensitise the girl to the idea of sex, he replied, “Absolutely not”.

While he should have kept things professional and at arm’s length, he had no sexual interest in the girl, his barrister Matt Black told the court.

“His poor judgment at the time does make him stupid, (but) it doesn’t make him guilty,” he added.

Over the weeks Hockley was chatting to the teenager he also had a consensual “sexual encounter” with her mother, telling the court his marriage was “broken almost beyond repair” at the time.

But crown prosecutor Judy Geary has told the jury Hockley’s explanation “just doesn’t ring true”.

The prosecution has argued the former officer invited the teenager on holiday, told her he slept naked and called her “beautiful” in some messages to her. He is also accused of commenting on sexual interactions between older men and girls.

The court heard the girl said some messages from Hockley “were creepy”, making her feel uncomfortable.

No messages could be retrieved during the investigation because Snapchat messages – which can include photos or text – are automatically deleted after being viewed, Ms Geary said earlier. Senders are also notified if someone takes a screenshot of conversations.

But the girl did take pictures of three conversations using another device.

Hockley pleaded not guilty at the start of the trial last week to one count each of grooming a child under 16 with intent to procure engagement in a sexual act, grooming a child under 16 with intent to expose to indecent matter and using the internet to procure a child under 16.

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