A YOUTH worker and world-class musician has been jailed for maintaining a sexual relationship with a teenage girl 34 years his junior.
Renowned didgeridoo player Adrian Ross was 48 when his life began to fall apart and he turned to a relationship with a 14-year-old schoolgirl.
Ross and the girl would have sex in the back of his car during a relationship that lasted three months in 2010.
He pleaded guilty in Maroochydore District Court yesterday to maintaining a sexual relationship with a child under 16.
Ross and the teenager exchanged dozens of text messages and phone calls, including declarations of love.
Picture messages, including a topless one of the girl, were sent when Ross asked her for photos.
Ross would meet the girl before school and drive to a location where they would sit in his car and talk.
Hugging and kissing escalated to sex, which happened about 10 times.
The girl said Ross told her he loved her and to keep their relationship a secret.
Defence barrister Steve Courtney said Ross and his family had suffered vilification and threats since he was charged with the offence.
His reputation as an indigenous leader had been destroyed.
Ross was one of Australia's most highly regarded didgeridoo players.
He performed at the Sydney Olympics and other major events.
Mr Courtney said Ross had worked as a youth worker for the Department of Education at schools on the Sunshine Coast. Funding for the role was stretched and in 2007 Ross lost his home.
Ross lost faith in God and distanced himself from his family after two siblings died.
"Ultimately a good man did a very bad thing," Mr Courtney said.
"He lost himself, he lost the meaning for life (and) became angry."
Judge John Robertson sentenced Ross to four years' imprisonment, suspended after 16 months.
Judge Robertson, who said he was aware of Ross's prominence as a musician, said the youth worker's behaviour was appalling.
"I infer that she would have looked up to you," Judge Robertson said.
"You took advantage of her sexually in circumstances where you had no right to do so."
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.