Cop jailed after sex with teen he met on the job

An officer who groomed and coerced a teenager into sex after meeting her while on duty has been jailed for at least three years.

Matthew Robert Townsend admitted pursuing the 15-year-old after taking a statement from her when she was physically assaulted at school.

The 29-year-old former probationary constable chased the schoolgirl using messages on social media after finding her account through tagged photos.

"You're cute, would you like to meet up?" he messaged before explaining he was the police officer she had spoken to at school.

Townsend asked the girl to keep the contact secret or they would both get in trouble.

He was jailed for at least three years and a maximum term of six years on Thursday after pleading guilty to two counts of having sexual intercourse with a child aged between 14 and 16 years.

NSW District Court judge Julia Baly noted the significant age gap and Townsend's status as a police officer when she described a "clear power imbalance" between the pair.

She said any consent from the victim should be considered in light of her initial reluctance, with the girl rejecting Townsend's early advances.

"It did involve a level of coercion," Judge Baly said.

"I do not accept he was not alive to the coercion."

Townsend "grossly and egregiously" abused the trust placed in him as he planned and carefully orchestrated his offending against a girl who was vulnerable due to her age and personal circumstances.

"He was a police officer who was on duty investigating a potential offence involving this victim, where he commenced his course of priming her for his sexual gratification," Judge Baly said.

Townsend used increasingly sexualised language in his messages to the victim and encouraged her to engage sexually with him.

He also had her phone number in his police notebook, a fact he highlighted when they later drove to a car park where he had sex with her after buying her Vodka Cruisers.

Townsend did not take the teenager to his share house, fearing his housemates would contact police themselves.

Days later Townsend bought her a mango energy drink and vapes, and had sex with her again after driving her around in his car while talking about his job as a cop.

Townsend's status as a police officer significantly elevated his already serious offending, the judge said.

He has been in custody since October 2022 and will be eligible for parole on September 30, 2025.

1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)

National Sexual Abuse and Redress Support Service 1800 211 028

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