Bogus social worker jailed for sex offending

A man who posed as a social worker to groom a group of teenage runaways and the did an indecent act on one of the boys as he slept has been jailed for two years.

The man continues to deny the offending after being found guilty at a jury trial in November.

The probation report for his Christchurch District Court sentencing assessed him as a low risk of re-offending, but Crown prosecutor Karyn South said his continued denials must make him a high risk.

Judge Paul Kellar told the 38-year-old man that the pre-sentence reports by probation and by health professionals did not provide “any reliable or credible information about your life or personal circumstances”.

Miss South said: “I accept there has got to be some sort of mental health issue going on in this case. We haven’t got to the bottom of it.”

The man has been having a difficult time while he has been held in custody pending sentencing on charges of meeting young people for sexual grooming, two of supplying under 18-year-olds with cannabis, and the indecent act on a 14-year-old boy.

His interim name suppression has been continued because he still has another jury trial.

Defence counsel Andrew McKenzie said the man was very concerned for his safety in jail. “This is due to the background, the nature of the offences, and the difficulties he has already had in jail. He is concerned that those entrusted to protect him may not be able to do so.”

The man was originally charged with drugging and sexually violating a male couch surfer in May 2014, indecently assaulting another person in September 2014, stealing a Cash Advance card worth $20 from a third person, stealing a driver’s licence from a man in October, and making an intimate visual recording. He had denied all those charges.

Those charges were eventually dropped, because the tourist victims had returned overseas and were apparently getting on with their lives and not “engaging” with the prosecution about returning for a trial.

But while on bail on those charges, the man was arrested on the charges relating to the young people he met at a suburban Christchurch fast food outlet when he was posing as a social worker. He bought the group food, took them shopping, took them for rides in his car, and gave them $100 to buy cannabis before getting them to stay the night at his house in Aranui.

During the night, a 14-year-old boy woke to find his pants and underwear had been lowered and the man was lying closely behind him.

The man’s bail conditions had been meant to prevent contact with young people.

The Crown said the offending involved a high level of premeditation: the man had posed as a social worker, built the trust of the young people, paid $100 for their cannabis, and had told them to duck down out of sight in his car until the door or his garage had closed. They were told to stay away from the windows while inside his house, and there was an “exit strategy” if the police arrived.

The man did not accept that evidence, which emerged at his jury trial.

Judge Kellar said the victim of the indecent assault had been vulnerable because he was young and asleep. He would have been affected by the cannabis. “It is well established in the scientific community that using cannabis by those whose brains are still in a state of formation has serious consequences for them.”

He imposed a total of two years’ jail, to be followed by nine months of special release conditions. He read the man a warning under the three strikes law which imposes heavier penalties on repeat violent or sexual offenders. The man will be registered as a child sex offender.

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