Victorian court hears of Dancesport official's fall from grace

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Former senior Dancesport official sentenced to jail over child grooming.

A Melbourne man and former Dancesport official has been sentenced to three months in jail for child grooming.

Andrew Howlett, 39 of Lilydale admitted to grooming a teenage boy while he was a Dancesport adjudicator in late 2016.

Bendigo magistrate Patrick Southey said Howlett's offending marked a huge fall from grace and ordered him to serve a two-year community correction order after jail.

But Howlett's lawyer indicated he would appeal against the sentence and Howlett was released on bail pending the appeal.

The Bendigo Magistrates Court heard the victim was a talented performer who was excited when Howlett contacted him online when Howlett was "high-up in Dancesport."

Howlett described the relationship as unusual, awkward and like a mentorship.

The police prosecutor Leading Senior Constable Sally Mannell told the court Howlett admitted to making plans to have the boy stay at his house in Lilydale.

The court heard the pair discussed personal feelings and dancing, but the communication became indecent.

The contact lasted for four months and Howlett asked the victim to delete the messages.

Magistrate expresses concern

Mr Southey said during sentencing this showed Howlett was trying to cover his tracks.

"This was a significant breach of trust, a breach of responsibility," he said.

Mr Southey also expressed concern that this type of crime against vulnerable young people was becoming more prevalent.

"These are unhappy cases," he said.

Howlett's barrister Pardeep Tiwana outlined how his client had contributed extensively to the dancing community.

"He's built up an impressive CV," he said.

But the court heard the day he was charged in February this year, he resigned from his role at Dancesport although he is still a financial member.

"It's caused him embarrassment and shame," Mr Tiwana said.

"There has been embarrassment but there has also been overwhelming support," he said.

Mr Southey told Howlett he would never be involved in dance at the same level again.

His lawyer Mr Tiwana told the court the offending was out of character and Mr Southey agreed.

Victim impact statement

The teenager's mother read a victim impact statement to the court describing how her son was struggling to cope as a result of the offending.

"My son has trouble eating," she told the court.

"He's become withdrawn. My heart breaks for him," she said.

"My little boy has been taken from me," the court heard from the mother.

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    Article Victorian court hears of Dancesport official's fall from grace compiled by Original article here