Father, 43, who messaged a 14-year-old Filipino girl on Christmas Day asking if she was a virgin avoids jail after admitting to grooming the child
- Jeremy Lysaght, 43, was sentenced at Downing Centre District Court on Friday
- He pleaded guilty to grooming a 14-year-old girl in the Philippines in 2015
- Court heard he had no recollection of grooming the girl as he was drinking vodka
- He received 18 months to be served at home and a $500 good behaviour bond
- Lysaght's wife said she was growing apart from him at the time of his offending
A married paralegal who groomed a 14-year-old girl online says he has no recollection of the conversation because he was drunk on vodka.
Jeremy Lysaght, 43, was sentenced on Friday after he contacted the child in the Philippines in 2015 through messaging service Viber, asking if she was a virgin and whether her mother would let her sleep in the same bed as him.
The recovering alcoholic pleaded guilty last year to grooming the child, claiming he isn't sexually interested in children but drinking had lowered his inhibitions, Sydney Morning Herald reported.
The father-of-one was sentenced to 18 months to be served at home under the strict supervision of community corrections, and received a $500 good behaviour bond.
The court heard Lysaght spent Christmas Day in 2014 drinking vodka when he first started speaking with the child.
Last year he told court that he engaged in conversation with the girl because he felt 'neglected' by his wife - who stood by his side during sentencing on Friday.
During conversations, he received a picture of the teenager and asked if she was 'really 14', before asking about her virginity.
Australian Federal Police became aware of the conversation and arrested Lysaght at his Sydney home in 2016.
On Friday, Lysaght told the Downing Centre District Court that he didn't recall grooming the child and that he had 'no explanation' for his actions.
Court previously heard that he began speaking to the girl after talking to women on dating site Filipino Cupid.
He admitted that alcohol lowered his inhibitions to a point where he was 'interested in sex' while speaking with the child.
His wife and employer Joanne Liang also revealed that her husband 'could easily drink 10 to 12 beers at a time' in the years leading up to and during 2015.
She also explained she grew apart from Lysaght following the 2014 birth of her son, who was hospitalised for five months with only a 50 per cent chance of survival.
'I was literally 100 per cent committed to my son ... I was only concentrating on my son,' she told the court, while acknowledging Lysaght remained supportive.
Judge Peter Maiden described Lysaght's grooming as being 'at the bottom range of offending'.
'I am of the view the offender has expressed his remorse and understanding of the offending behaviour,' he said.
Lysaght said he accepted alcohol was his 'master' and has been sober since December, attending Alcoholics Anonymous sessions two to three times a week.
Investigators have failed in locating his 14-year-old victim, who is believed to be one of three children living with her mother in the Philippines, Sydney Morning Herald reported.