WARNING: Some readers may find this story distressing.
Despite having a nine-month ‘relationship’ with a 15-year-old girl, a young landscaper has avoided spending any time in jail.
On Monday (30 August), 22-year-old Darcy Edward Page was told by the ACT Supreme Court’s Justice John Burns that the inappropriate relationship between him and the girl had left a lasting impact on her.
“You were an adult, albeit a young adult, and the victim was very much a child,” he said.
Page met the girl in the late 2010s and asked her to be his girlfriend when he was 19 and she was 15, which meant she was incapable of giving sexual consent due to her age.
Justice Burns said they had around 30 episodes of sexual interactions over about nine months. She became pregnant at that time and gave birth to a child.
The girl wrote a victim impact statement detailing the toll Page’s offending had taken on her, which was read to the court earlier in August.
“I’m not going to pretend I have anything but utter hatred for this man,” she said.
“Darcy, I would forever hate myself if I hadn’t done everything in my power to take you down and stop you hurting another child.”
She said she was “extremely vulnerable” when they met as she was suffering from mental health issues. But she became attached to Page as she thought he was taking care of her.
“Mind you, I was mentally unstable,” she said.
“I wasn’t developed enough to understand the issues here.
“I saw him as a hero who would take care of me and love me.”
She said due to his offending, she suffered from sleep paralysis, nightmares, flashbacks, panic attacks, a fear of people who smelled like beer and cigarettes, and a fear of being in Canberra.
Justice Burns said he was satisfied the relationship had a detrimental impact on the girl’s mental health.
He also said she was now very bitter about the relationship and how it ended – although he said he did not suggest she shouldn’t be bitter.
But Justice Burns said messages exchanged between the pair didn’t suggest any predatory behaviour by Page, and they appeared to share genuine affection for each other at the time of their relationship.
He also noted Page had been a young man at the time.
“Not all sexual relationships between a 19-year-old male and a 15-year-old female call for the imposition of a period of full-time imprisonment,” he said.
Page pleaded guilty to a charge of maintaining a sexual relationship with a child.
He was sentenced to two years’ jail, fully suspended so he could complete a two-year good behaviour order and serve 300 hours of community service.
If this story has raised any concerns for you, 1800RESPECT, the national 24-hour sexual assault, family and domestic violence counselling line, can be contacted on 1800 737 732.
In an emergency call 000.