A year behind bars for child grooming

A CHARGE of child grooming has landed a Coffs Harbour man in jail for the next 12 months.

Mark Patrick Heaney, 43, was arrested in May 2013 after police were alerted by a 13 year-old boy that he had been sent nude photos by Heaney.

The next time Heaney attempeted to conduct online communication with the boy, he found himself unknowingly chatting with an undercover police officer.

The former Northern NSW regional manager for AFL (NSW/ACT) pleaded guilty to a grooming charge over his first online encounter with the boy in February 2013 and a series of later interactions with child abuse investigators posing as the teenager.

"He instigated a conversation that was of a sexual or explicit nature and sent the child a number of images of himself," Downing Centre District Court judge Laura Wells said at this morning's sentencing hearing.

She handed him an 18-month total sentence with a July 2015 release date.

Heaney, who was supported in court by his parents, showed no reaction as the sentence came down.


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