Child's consent irrelevant to underage sex sentence

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A non-custodial sentence for sexual offences against a child under 13 where the child had been a willing participant did not meet the essential fact that the law was there not only to protect children from the baleful influence of adults with an inappropriate interest in children but was also designed to protect children from themselves. [...]

The President [of the court] said that the complainant was a child of 11 who joined an internet chatline, claiming that she was 20. The defendant, who was 19 at the time, started chatting online to her. The messages sent by the complainant were no less sexually explicit than the defendant's. When the defendant discovered her true age he did not break off the relationship. They arranged to meet and the sexual activity with which the defendant was charged took place with the full consent of the complainant. Although the defendant had not corrupted the child, a noncustodial sentence did not meet the need to protect children not only from adult offenders but from themselves.

source: Article 'Child's consent irrelevant to underage sex sentence'; business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/law/reports/article4629535.ece; Times Online; 29 August 2008