Terry Martin has walked free today from the Supreme Court in Hobart, but readers outside of Tasmania may not recognise the name or know of the heinous crime he was found guilty of earlier this month.
For the record, and on the record, the former MP is a convicted sex offender.
His crime was to engage in sex acts with a 12-year-old prostitute (whose mother he paid for the services) and to produce child exploitation material during their sordid rendezvous.
It's nasty stuff in anyone’s book.
The Mercury newspaper has been all over the Martin case like stink on shit – the simile carefully chosen given the gutter-level coverage provided by the local News Ltd. rag.
But this is not a critique of mainstream media coverage of the case. At a base level I understand the paper’s fascination with the story. It’s not every day they get a yarn like this land in their lap.
This is a reflection on the defence that has seen Martin dodge jail time for a 10-month suspended sentence – The Hypersexual Defence.
Martin is a 54-year-old former MLC, sitting as a Labor member before being booted from the party for his stance on the controversial pulp mill in the state’s north, then taking his seat as an independent through until the 2010 state election.
During his time as the Member for Elwick, a seat in Hobart’s northern suburbs, Martin managed to acquire quite an addiction to sex workers.
At one point he ripped through $150,000 in hooker bills in just a couple of years.
In anyone’s money, that is good going.
And in a strikingly ironic way, it’s this astounding record of paying for sex that has seen the man walk from his sentencing hearing rather than taking a bus ride across the Derwent River for a stay in the big house.
You see, Justice David Porter found that Martin had been driven to a hypersexual state by medication he was prescribed for Parkinson’s Disease.
Not only did the medicine ease his twitching nerves, it ramped up his libido to the point where he plain couldn’t get enough to get satisfied. Mick Jagger, eat your heart out.
But Martin's hypersexuality was not the only fact to fall in his favour during the trial.
The prosecution relied on a number of witnesses in trying to establish that Martin must have known the girl was not 18-years-old as stated in the classified advertisement he first answered.
They put several of the 100 men found to have fallen into the same trap on the stand, eeking out sordid details and setting up Martin for the fall.
Martin, however, was the only one charged for his crimes and this element of ‘witch hunt’ must have been as obvious to judge and jurors as it was to the general public who were reading along.
Throughout the ordeal, Martin maintained his innocence of the underage sex charge, but admitted to taking explicit photos of the girl.
Regardless of this he was found guilty – in the minds of the jurors, he must have known the girl he abused was too young.
He'll live with the infamy and indignity of being found out, but there’s no jail time for him to deal with.
He’ll likely suffer sideways looks in public, but slings and arrows of that nature are infinitely preferable to sideways looks in the prison yard. Or washroom.
Whether The Hypersexual Defence lives long in Tasmanian legal folklore remains to be seen.
It seems like fodder for satirists like the writers of South Park – much in the mould of The Chewbacca Defence – but strange little happenings on this strange little island aren’t guaranteed to garner much attention Stateside.
Earlier this year the Tasmanian parliament voted to allow same-sex marriage and became the first Australian state to do so. The decision marked a complete turnaround from the attitude in the mid-1990s where sex between consenting adult men was considered a criminal act in the eyes of the law.
Now, though, near enough 100 men have been given the green light having paid for sex with a 12-year-old and the man considered 'guiltiest' won't be spending another night in custody.
I may not be Johnnie Cochrane, but surely I can convince you this does not make sense.