Happier times: Joshua Crockwell was dating reality TV star Natalie Nunn last August when this photo was taken. *Photo by WENN/Splash News

Happier times: Joshua Crockwell was dating reality TV star Natalie Nunn last August when this photo was taken. *Photo by WENN/Splash News

FRIDAY, AUGUST 24: A child sex offender was in court today in a bid to have his conviction overturned.

Barrister Elizabeth Christopher told the Court of Appeal former trainee firefighter Joshua Crockwell, who was given a 15-month suspended sentence for sexually exploiting a 12-year-old girl, that her client had been the subject of intense media scrutiny since his sentencing in May.

She told Chief Justice Ian Kawaley that the case had attracted “public humiliation” and “public denunciation” which extended “even to Facebook and other social media. He is only 22 and this stigma will follow him for the rest of his life” — which should be taken into account.

Ms Christopher lodged three grounds of appeal — that Magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo had made a mistake by allowing verbal statements Crockwell had made after being detained by police, but before a formal interview.

She said that, although the statements were not disputed, the order in which they had been said to have been made was and tended to incriminate Crockwell.

She also argued that insufficient consideration had been given to whether Crockwell knew the girl was underage.

The Department of Public Public Prosections last week lodged their own appeal against sentence, which was widely condemned for being too light.

Chief Justice Kawaley heard that Ms Christopher had argued in Magistrates’ Court that a police officer’s account of the statements was inadmissible, but only after the officer had given evidence of what was said.

Ms Christopher also argued that the appeal court should find that Mr Tokunbo’s verdict was “unreasonable and ought not to be supported.”

She added that previous case law had taken into account that “media scrutiny around the case was sufficient deterrent.”

Crockwell, 22, walked free from court after his sentence was suspended for two years. If he does not commit another offence with the two years, he will escape jail time. He will also be on probation for two years.

The light sentence sparked fury, with an online petition calling for the sacking of Mr Tokunbo.

Crockwell was found guilty of trying to get the girl to perform a sex act on him on two occasions.

The court heard that Crockwell, then 20, had become friendly with the child and exchanged text messages with her.

He arranged to meet her in June 2010 and asked her to perform a sex act.

It is understood that Crockwell is no longer serving with the Fire Service.

Mr Kawaley reserved his decision to a later date.