A U.S. sailor who attempted to solicit what he thought was a 14-year-old Australian girl for sex over the Internet was released Tuesday and ordered to be deported, The Associated Press reported.
Petty Officer 2nd Class David Wayne Budd, 29, was handed an 18-month suspended sentence and placed on a three-year good-behavior bond by a New South Wales District Court judge, who called the incident an “isolated act of stupidity,” according to the AP.
Attempts Tuesday to contact the New South Wales Attorney General’s Office and the U.S. Consulate in Sydney for comment were unsuccessful.
Budd, who pleaded guilty Aug. 20 in Australian court to using the Internet to groom a child for sex, had faced up to 12 years in prison.
The sailor was arrested June 23 by the New South Wales Police Force’s Child Exploitation Internet Unit. He was picked up at the Sydney airport after flying there from Queensland to meet the girl, who turned out to be a police detective posing as the girl online in a sting operation.
Budd, who was an electronics technician with the Navy’s San Diego-based Southwest Regional Maintenance Center, had been in the country participating in Talisman Saber 2007, a U.S.-Australia military exercise.
He was released on bail July 3 under the condition he not leave Australia and has been staying at an undisclosed location.
At his sentencing hearing last Friday, Budd argued that the child-seduction attempt over the Internet cost him his family, job and nearly $1 million in benefits. He had lived with his wife and 6-year-old son in San Diego.
In his ruling, Judge Colin Charteris said the sailor had already been punished enough, the AP reported.
“I do accept that he’s lost his career by this isolated act of stupidity,” Charteris was quoted as saying, adding that it stood as “significant” punishment.