Child care worker molested girls

Brisbane Supreme District Court
Brisbane Supreme District Court Rae Wilson

A BUNDABERG child care worker was reading a book to one girl sitting on his lap and helping another do a puzzle when he molested them for his own sexual gratification.  

Both girls were aged three when he touched them indecently while they were in his care at a child care centre where he had worked for six years.  

The 24-year-old man was sentenced to a wholly suspended 14-month jail sentence and 18 months probation when he pleaded guilty in the Maryborough District Court.  

But Queensland's Attorney-General successfully appealed the sentence, arguing the sentencing judge had erred by finding there were "exceptional circumstances" against jail time.  

Lawyers for the Attorney-General told the Court of Appeal the man should have served actual time behind bars and that the sentence was manifestly inadequate.  

Three Court of Appeal justices, in a judgment handed down on Tuesday, agreed and ordered the man to serve two months of his sentence in jail.  

They also reduced the probation period to one year.  

While there were "powerful mitigating circumstances", the justices found this case warranted jail time because it involved two children and three separate offences.  

They said the Bundaberg man was "in a special position of responsibility for children all the more vulnerable because they were not of an age to make effective complaint".  

The offences came to light when one of the children said something which raised concern.  

The childcare centre's supervisor confronted the man and the charges were based entirely on his immediate admissions.  

The court detailed how the man underwent surgery at age 11 to remove a brain tumour and had since suffered from epileptic seizures.  

His father told police his son had no friends of his own age, was shy, never had a girlfriend and lived with his parents.  

A psychiatrist's report opined the accused was "unlikely to be a risk to the community in the future".  

Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie said, in a statement, the original sentence was "not adequate, did not set a deterrent and was not in line with community expectations".  

"This is a clear illustration of the government's responsiveness to community outrage at the level of sentences imposed on child sex offenders," he said.  

"We want Queensland to be the safest place in Australia to raise a child and making the law tougher is just one more way the Government can help make this a reality."      

Topics:  court crime jail molestation

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