A 30-year-old Coorow man who sent sexual messages to a “girl” he believed was 15 years old but was in fact a police officer has been spared jail and given a 12 month suspended sentence. Johnathon Leslie Willis appeared in Geraldton District Court on Monday for sentencing on five counts of using electronic communication with intent to procure a person, under the age of 16 years, to engage in sexual activity between May 14 and July 20, 2021. The court was told the offending began shortly after Willis’s partner gave birth to their first baby, during which she experienced significant complications. State prosecutor Gary Huggins said Willis messaged the 15-year-old persona, which was part of a covert police operation, on Facebook Messenger through an alias account Jason Black. Willis acknowledged the age of the girl, made sexual comments and asked to meet up with her during the conversation. Mr Huggins said the man offered to buy the “girl” an iPhone in return for sexual favours while he also sent explicit photos. Willis was arrested and made full admissions to the offences, stating he was “lonely and going through hard times at home”. Defence lawyer Karen Ward said Willis never intended to meet up with the girl as he was working in Coorow at the time and he couldn’t afford to buy her the phone. Ms Ward highlighted the fact he voluntarily broke off the conversation after two months. The court was told Willis was friends with 500-600 females on Facebook and had sexual encounters with four women ranging from 21 to 40 years of age. Ms Ward conceded a term of imprisonment was inevitable, but submitted that it could be conditionally suspended. District Court Judge Alan Troy said Willis utterly betrayed his partner, by engaging in sexualised conversations with other women. However, Judge Troy stated he was not satisfied Willis was “genuinely intended to meet the persona” and “certainly took no steps to do so”. He said the risk of reoffending was low and could be reduced further by counselling. Judge Troy sentenced Willis to 12 months jail, suspended for 12 months. He will be subject to conditions including program requirements, supervision and reporting.