Pervert preyed on vulnerable boys, including disabled child
A 72-year-old South Burnett man has been sentenced to seven years' imprisonment after pleading guilty to having a sexual relationship with a child and multiple counts of indecent treatment of a minor.
The man, who cannot be named due to the nature of his crimes and the need to protect the three victims who were aged 12-15 at the time of offending, appeared in the Kingaroy District Court on Tuesday, June 16.
He pleaded guilty to all 13 offences against him.
He was charged with one count of maintaining a sexual relationship with a child and 12 counts of indecent treatment of a child under 16.
The court heard the offending began between July 31, 2017 and October 1, 2018 over a 15-month period when the defendant was aged between 69 and 70 years old.
While the defendant does have a criminal history, he did not have any previous sexual charges relevant to the 13 charges he was facing.
While seated in the courthouse docks, the defendant appeared visibly emotional, his hands were shaking and he continued to take deep, shuddering breaths.
Crown prosecutor Michael Mitchells told the court all three male victims were in the care of the Department of Child Safety at the time of the offending and stated under Queensland law the defendant must serve a period in custody.
"There was a considerable age difference of between 55 years and 57 years between him and each of the three complainants … the offending conduct is plainly serious," he said.
Mr Mitchells mentioned one of the complainants, who was aged 13 to 15 at the time of offending, was particularly vulnerable due to his intellectual impairment.
"The offending occurred at various locations around the property of which he stayed whilst he was under the care of his foster carer," Mr Mitchells said.
"(The defendant) introduced (the complainant) to serious conduct ..... almost immediately and the maintaining period occurred over a period of approximately 15 months … (The defendant) visited the property on a weekly basis over that period and offended on every occasion that he was there."
"(The complainant) was also witness to (the defendant) performing sex acts on his brother, who was aged 12-13 at the time," Mr Mitchells said.
The defendant also offended against another child who was 14 at the time and was also under the care of the Department of Child Safety.
Mr Mitchells stated the offending against the third complainant occurred over a weekend period where the defendant masturbated him and performed oral sex on him.
"There was some pressure involved in that count and it's submitted in the Crown's submission that (the third complainant) cried on occasion," Mr Mitchells said.
One of the counts of indecent treatment involved the defendant showing pornographic material depicting naked men to a complainant, while another count involved two of the complainants in the shed with another person who was fixing a mower when the defendant proceeded to abuse one of the complainants in the shed on the property.
One of the other counts of indecent treatment of a child under 16 involved the defendant pressuring a complainant to perform a sex act while he took two of the boys out for a drive.
In a victim impact statement, the third complainant stated he now has difficulty sleeping, low self-esteem, suicidal thoughts and attempts and lack of trust in the system which he feels failed him.
The court heard the victim has taken up smoking more heavily as well as drug use, experiences voices in his head and flashbacks, and has attempted to take his life between four and five times.
Mr Mitchells stated the defendant has no prior criminal history of this nature but that the behaviour against the three minors was serious and submitted for 9-10 years of imprisonment.
Defence barrister Robert Glenday submitted for six to seven years imprisonment, stating the prosecutor's submission was too high given the offending did not involve the sodomy of the complainants.
Mr Glenday also submitted jail time would be more burdensome upon the defendant and told the court he was suffering with significant physical and mental health issues including lesions on the lungs, sleep aphonia, depression, hypertension and he recently suffered a heart attack.
Mr Glenday said the defendant is now single and lives alone in the South Burnett region, he has no children and he receives the aged care pension.
"He accepted the Crown case against him and there was no need to cross examine the three young children who are very vulnerable and the process would have been very traumatic for them," he said.
"I submit the defendant serve a third of the sentence, which would reflect the criminality of his actions."
Judge Orazio Rinaudo stated the grooming behaviour of the three young boys, the young ages and vulnerable nature of all three children as well as the prolonged period of time over which the offending occurred was very serious.
"However, it was noted that you have spared the victims from any contested hearing (as has) your co-operation with the authorities and administration of justice to enter an early plea," he said.
"You offended in circumstances while these children were in care and out of sight of others who might have taken more interest in their safety … and the effects this will have on all three complainants cannot be overlooked.
"These offences are all too prevalent in the community. The punishment needs to serve as a specific deterrence to persuade you and others that this offending is abhorrent and completely unacceptable."
In regards to the 12 counts of indecent treatment of a child under 16, the defendant received three years to be served concurrently.
In regards to the charge of maintaining a sexual relationship with a child, Judge Rinaudo ordered the defendant be sentenced to seven years imprisonment with a parole eligibility date set at one third of the prison time, meaning the defendant must serve a minimum of two years and four months of actual time in custody.
Convictions were recorded and the defendant will be eligible for parole on October 15, 2022.
Child protection services contact numbers:
If you believe a child is in immediate danger or a life-threatening situation call Triple Zero (000).
If you have a reason to suspect a child in Queensland is experiencing harm, or is at risk of experiencing harm, you need to contact a Child Safety Services' Regional Intake Service.
For the South West Queensland and Darling Downs district phone 1300 683 390.
For after hours and on weekends contact the Child Safety After Hours Service Centre on
1800 177 135. This service operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
*For 24-hour sexual violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636.