Woman admits grooming, indecent treatment of teenager

Cheryl Goodenough |

Renee Hickman has been handed a suspended jail sentence for grooming a boy and indecent treatment.
Renee Hickman has been handed a suspended jail sentence for grooming a boy and indecent treatment.

A woman was not acting as a predator when she began a friendship with a teenage boy two decades younger than her.

But Renee Kate Hickman’s relationship with the 15-year-old became increasingly flirtatious, Brisbane District Court Judge John Allen said on Friday.

Hickman, then 35, spent hours on the phone with him, exchanging hundreds of text messages each day and referring to him as her “love”.

Judge Allen said the content of the messages became increasingly sexualised with Hickman sending photos of herself partly clothed or topless with hands over her breasts.

Renee Hickman leaving the Brisbane District Court
Renee Hickman’s relationship with the teenage boy started as a friendship, the judge said. (Darren England/AAP PHOTOS)

She also lay with the teen, kissed him and allowed him to indecently deal with her.

Hickman engineered situations where she could be with the boy, only stopping the “relatively short period of grooming” when police became involved.

Judge Allen said the relationship started as a friendship rather than because Hickman was acting as a predator at the time.

He took into account steps she had taken towards rehabilitation like  attending counselling and finding employment.

The court heard a psychological assessment found she was at a very low risk of general recidivism and there was no evidence of pedophilia or a broader pattern of sexual interest in adolescents.

“I also take into account that there are factors in your own upbringing which it seems contributed to you being psychologically vulnerable to poor judgment in the progression of your relationship with the complainant,” Judge Allen said.

Hickman, who has no relevant previous convictions, pleaded guilty to one count each of grooming a child under 16 and indecent treatment of a child under 16.

Judge Allen said the case was finely balanced with Hickman at risk of serving time behind bars.

But he found her rehabilitation could continue in the community, sentencing her to a suspended term of imprisonment on one count and a probation order on the other.

Hickman will be subject to reportable offender legislation for at least five years, with a conviction recorded.

She has spent 22 days in custody for making contact with the teen in breach of her bail conditions.

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