Man charged over sex with underage girl

A GOLD Coast man has to do 75 hours of unpaid community service because he had consensual sexual intercourse with his underage girlfriend.

He also has to complete two years of probation despite the fact the pair was in a "loving relationship", a court was told.

The 18-year-old man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the victim, pleaded guilty in the Southport Magistrates Court yesterday to three counts of carnal knowledge.

Crown prosecutor Natalie Lima said the teenagers had a three-and-a-half-year age difference.

The criminal charges were laid after the woman went to a police station to make a complaint about an unrelated matter.

Text messages exchanged between the pair expressing their feelings for each other through words and emojis were tendered to the court.

Defence lawyer Michael McMillan said friends of the teenagers described them as being "into each other".

They got together after bonding over mutual life problems, the court was told.

"They noticed both had scars on their arms," Mr McMillan said. "Self-harming brought them together."

Magistrate Ron Kilner said jail was the "starting point" for this offending but this matter to had exceptional circumstances.

"She seemed to have been a willing participant," Mr Kilner said.

"You had no criminal intent, it's clear by the text messages."

No conviction was recorded.