Two years for indecent assault on boy

A man in his 20s has been sentenced to two years imprisonment after pleading guilty to a single act of indecent assault on a boy age five.

The man is not named in this report because the boy was a neighbour and would be easily identified.

Crown Counsel Elisabeth Lees said the boy had been told not to tell anybody what happened. But as soon as his mother came home from work, he told her.

His mother took him to the police and they talked with members of the Family Support Unit.

The boy said he had been carried to a building and told to pull down his pants. He was lying down on his stomach. The man got on top of him and he was heavy. Using a child’s name for the male sex organ, he said he saw something shoot out of the man that looked like milk.

The boy drew a picture of what he said happened and told officers this was the first time it had ever happened. Asked if it was a good thing or a bad thing, he said it was bad.

He was taken to hospital and examined by two doctors. They found tears to the anus which were consistent with an allegation of anal contact.

When police spoke to the man, he admitted touching the boy and putting himself against the boy’s bottom, but he said there was no penetration. He said he was moving to and fro and fantasising.

Ms Lees said the maximum sentence is 10 years. She called this assault extremely serious, perhaps mitigated only by the fact that it occurred just once.

Defence Attorney Nicholas Dixey began by thanking a psychiatrist, a psychologist and probation officers for their scholarly and detailed reports.

He said the defendant expressed remorse because he understood the damage his actions had or may have on the victim.

The psychiatric report showed that the man had a history of significant depression and a borderline personality disorder. He found it difficult to operate in an adult world. His slow development had led to bullying at school and he had created imaginary friends.

He found it easier to relate to children of a younger age.

His account of the incident correlated with what the victim had told police. The man said he was home at his computer. He looked out the window and saw the child wandering around alone. He went outside and talked to the child and they went to a nearby construction site.

He tried to overcome his feelings, but could not. He was adamant with the officers that he did not rape or penetrate the boy.

By his guilty plea, he avoided putting the boy through a trial. The defendant was not someone in a position of trust like a teacher or stepfather and it was a one-time occurrence, Mr. Dixey said.

He pointed out that 10 years was the sentence for the worst offence by the worst offender.

In passing sentence, Justice Algernon Smith referred to another aspect of the psychiatric report on the defendant. Although his intellectual ability was not low enough to qualify for a diagnosis of mental retardation, his emotional and cognitive development was below his chronological age.

His ability to make decisions in an adult world was clearly compromised by his emotional state, but he clearly knew right from wrong.

The judge said a sentencer must tailor a sentence to the facts of a particular case. The personal facts of the offender would normally take second place behind the need to protect victims of sexual attacks.

Considerations include the degree of harm to the victim, the level of culpability of the offender, the level of risk proposed by the offender to society. In all classes of sexual offences there is also the need to deter others.

He said a plea of guilty does lead to a reduction in sentence, usually one-third. He had to consider that the child had been spared the ordeal of a trial. He said he was taking into account all the materials before him, mentioning specifically the psychiatrist’s report and the probation officer’s report.