If I told you that a 51 year old man placed internet advertisements, offering to pay a teenage girl to have sex with him – only to be caught by a police sting and convicted by a court – what would you assume his jail time would be?
Having trouble deciding? Here, have some more facts:
In 2015, Robert Darren Taggart, 51, was known publicly as the long-time principal of Taggart Developments, and a former president of the Trinity Old Boys Association.
Perth’s District Court heard that he was also known as “Taggy”, an online identity who used online small ad sites, including Locanto, to look for sexual encounters — one of which was spotted by a “13-year-old girl”.
The “girl” was, in fact, an undercover online police operative, who replied to the advertisement and told Taggart in their first internet interaction that “she was 13 going on 14” and sexually inexperienced.
After a series of obscene exchanges, Taggart arranged to meet the girl at a Lake Monger carpark, but was instead confronted with two real police officers, who found $100 in his wallet and a box of chocolates in his car.
He was convicted last month of three of the allegations of using the internet to procure sex from a girl under 16 for sex. Yesterday during a sentencing hearing, Judge Phillip McCann described aspects of the offending as “coldblooded”.
So, what do you think?
If you said any jail time whatsoever then, please, don’t be ridiculous:
Judge McCann said while the offence was serious, and would usually attract a prison term, unusual mitigating factors — including Taggart’s seriously ill daughter and his prominent fall from grace — warranted his 18-month jail term being suspended for two years.
Judge McCann also noted the conviction “has almost certainly ruined his otherwise stellar reputation and social standing and is a heavy punishment in his own right, albeit an unusual one”.
“Grounds for clemency must be given weight, and … I’ve reached a point where I still cannot confidently settle on immediate imprisonment.
“This is a borderline case,” Judge McCann said.
If you’re anything like me, then you probably also completely missed the fact that the offender has suffered enough already.
One can only hope that Western Australia’s Public Prosecutor’s Office does its job and appeals the sentence given to this disgrace.