Woman sought teen sex abuse for drug money, court told

A woman who arranged to have a teenage boy engage in sex work to help fund her drug addiction has avoided serving time in prison.

Karla Rose Heath, 48, walked from Brisbane Supreme Court on Monday wearing a hat with a bandana over her face after she received a suspended sentence with a ban from working with children.

Heath had earlier pleaded guilty to one count of supplying dangerous drugs to a child and one count of engaging a child in prostitution.

Karla Rosa Heath leaving the Supreme Court in Brisbane
Heath took the boy to a hotel and told him he could make money by offering to have sex upstairs.

The court heard Heath committed the offences between 2000 and 2001 when she was aged between 24 and 25 and the victim was aged between 14 and 15.

Heath gave the teen either heroin or amphetamines or ecstasy while they were on the balcony of her apartment.

Justice Frances Williams said Heath took the victim to a hotel in the inner Brisbane suburb of Spring Hill and told him he could make money by offering to have sex in its upstairs rooms.

"(The teen) felt obliged to do this to obtain money," Justice Williams said.

He then approached an older man in the hotel and later met up with Heath in her car and gave her the $100 he was paid.

Karla Rosa Heath arrives at the Supreme Court in Brisbane
Heath later said she was a sex worker at the time, addicted to methamphetamine.

Heath later said she was a sex worker at the time, addicted to methamphetamine and her offences against the victim were aimed at obtaining money for drugs.

The victim was also taken to a club in the inner Brisbane suburb of Fortitude Valley where Heath arranged for a man to pay to have sex with both of them.

The teen did not have sex with that man but witnessed Health doing so in the back of a ute.

Justice Williams said Heath on a third occasion took the victim to Albert Park in Spring Hill.

"You said to (the victim) to go into the park to see if there was anyone around to have sex with. No transactions eventuated on that occasion," Justice Williams said.

After going to police, the victim spoke to Heath in 2021 while wearing a covert recording device.

Karla Rosa Heath leaving the Supreme Court in Brisbane
Health was covertly recorded saying the offences were part of her efforts to obtain money for drugs.

During the conversation, Heath said she was remorseful and admitted lying to the victim's mother about their activities.

Prosecutors sought an 18-month suspended sentence while Heath's defence called for a fine or good behaviour bond with no conviction recorded to allow Heath to continue to help people via her employment in health and social work.

Justice Williams said Heath's offending had a considerable impact on the victim, who now suffered from post traumatic stress and stated Heath's offending contributed to them taking up drugs and sex work.

"A bond or fine does not properly reflect the seriousness of the offending and the need for denunciation," Justice Williams said.

She also said Heath's moral culpability was reduced by her being addicted to drugs at the time, having mental health issues and a disadvantaged childhood with domestic violence.

Heath was sentenced to six months' imprisonment with the term wholly suspended.

1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)

National Sexual Abuse and Redress Support Service 1800 211 028

Lifeline 13 11 14

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