An Illawarra teen who got his four-year-old niece to perform a sexual act on him under the pretence they were playing a game has avoided a full-time jail sentence.
Judge Paul Conlon accepted submissions from defence lawyer Jane Healey that her client - a very immature 18-year-old who suffered from autism - would be highly vulnerable to sexual and physical abuse at the hands of other inmates if sent to prison.
The teen, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was looking after his niece at her Warilla home while her parents were out on the afternoon of December 28 last year when the incident occurred.
Court documents said in the half hour between the girl's mother leaving at 4pm and her father arriving home at 4.30pm, the man took the child into the master bedroom and told her they were going to play a game.
He then placed his exposed penis on the girl's mouth then got her to masturbate him.
When the child's father arrived home, the man left the house and went to a nearby club to meet up with his older cousin and her friend.
The father told police he heard the girl make a passing sexual reference and immediately contacted his wife.
The girl told her mother about the incident, causing the woman to contact police.
The man was arrested the following day and charged with child indecent assault offences.
In earlier court proceedings, Ms Healey said the man understood the gravity of his conduct and was extremely remorseful.
In court on Wednesday, Ms Healey tendered a report by the man's treating psychologist, who used words such as "shy", "awkward" and "odd" to describe him.
The man had had a difficult childhood, including bullying at school, and neglect by his father whom he lived with between the ages of 8 and 12.
The court heard the man discovered pornographic material while living with his father and developed an obsession with porn, which continued up to and including the time of the incident.
Ms Healey noted the extreme seriousness of the offending, and also reiterated comments she'd made about her concern for the teen's safety should he be jailed.
"He will be profoundly vulnerable in custody," she said.
"He doesn't have the social mechanisms to survive in an all-male, adult environment such as that of a prison."
Judge Conlon handed the man a two-year suspended prison sentence on the condition he remain under the supervision of community corrections staff and abide by treatment schedules.