A REGISTERED sex offender has been sentenced to six months in jail for failing to report contact with a minor to police.
Ararat man Hector Silva, aged in his 50s, pleaded not guilty in Ararat Magistrates' Court on Friday.
Registered sex offenders are required to report any contact with minors to police within 24 hours.
The contact occurred on January 12, 2018 at Woolworths supermarket in Ararat, where Silva was doing his grocery shopping.
The court heard he approached an under-age female staff member at a cash register.
He completed his transaction, and handed the girl a slip of paper with his phone number and a request for her number written on it.
The girl gave evidence in court and said as Silva walked away, she saw him turn and "smirk" at her.
She read the piece of paper after closing out her register and reported the incident to management.
The girl also told the court that other registers were open at the time, and not staffed by minors, and there was no reason Silva couldn't have approached those registers instead.
She said the exchange made her feel "very uncomfortable" and "worried".
Silva represented himself and told Magistrate Peter Dunn that police had stopped him from obtaining CCTV footage that would prove he had not turned and smirked at the staff member.
"If you look at the camera, you can see my body language," he said. "I didn't turn around. (The prosecution) twist everything."
Mr Dunn told Silva that it was Silva's responsibility to obtain CCTV evidence - not the responsibility of police to hand it to him.
Silva told the court while he did hand the staff member a slip of paper, he had handed her the wrong one - and meant to give her a separate slip referencing a complaint he had about Woolworths.
He said police were insisting he plead guilty based on his previous convictions.
"They want me to plead guilty for what I was, not who I am," he said.
Silva admitted he could tell the staff member was a minor.
Police prosecutor Leading Senior Constable David Cosgriff told the court there was no reason for Silva to have contact with the minor.
"There are no innocent contact exceptions," he said.
Silva attempted to speak over the top of Mr Dunn while the magistrate handed down the sentence.
He asked Mr Dunn if he was "serious" about the sentence.
"Well I'm not joking," Mr Dunn said.
"I find the witness to be a credible witness and as such, find the matter proved. It's a serious offence."
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