SYDNEY - A MARRIED mother of three from the United States was convicted in an Australian court Tuesday of having underage sex with a 15-year-old boy she met on the Internet.
The Bendigo county court in Victoria state heard that Barbara Case, 33, flew to Australia from her hometown of Lyndhurst, Virginia, in May and spent 10 days with the boy in a holiday park cabin before being arrested.
She admitted having sexual intercourse with a child under the age of 16 and was sentenced to 16 months in jail, suspended for two years on condition she does not commit a similar offence.
Case, who spent more than three months in custody after her arrest, wept when she realised she would be allowed to walk free immediately and return to her family in the US as soon as possible.
The court heard Case met the boy through an online game called Runescape on Christmas Day last year.
'You knew he was 15, and you corresponded regularly,' judge Tim Wood told her during sentencing.
'You understand your conduct was inexcusable and morally wrong.'
The judge noted that Case had been suicidal and suffered from postnatal depression after the birth of her third child in 1999 and said she was unlikely to re-offend.
She was arrested after the boy's parents became concerned and contacted police.
Case told reporters outside the court she had missed her children.
'She wants to put it all behind her now,' said her lawyer, Megan Aumair.
Case has been placed on a sex offenders register for life. -- AFP