A 24-year-old man has been jailed and banned from schools, parks, and swimming pools after admitting indecently touching a 10-year-old boy who was playing football at a school playground.
Kevin Joseph Riddell will have to serve all of a 16-month jail term imposed by Christchurch District Court Judge Brian Callaghan because he is a second-strike offender.
Some of the time may be served in an alcohol residential rehabilitation centre, and Riddell will also be registered as a child sex offender.
Riddell was given a first strike warning in November when he was sentenced for indecent assaults on two males aged over 16 years. He was given an intensive supervision sentence and a community work sentence.
He was still under that sentence when he went to a Canterbury school playground, which has a sports field next to it. He was drinking a large bottle of cider.
He approached a boy who was kicking a ball around, and played “football and kicks” with him for a while, and then sat next to the boy as he rested at the school playground.
He offered the boy a drink of cider, saying it was soft drink, but the boy declined. He then asked questions which the boy described as “weird”: If he was into women’s boobs or body parts? If he had a girlfriend? If he watched pornography?
The boy moved away but the defendant kept sitting closer to him.
He then said there was a “bug” on the boy’s pants and twice touched him on his genitals, over his shorts. He touched or massaged the boy’s leg as the 10-year-old got up and began to walk away. Riddell told him not to tell his mum.
The boy went straight home and told his mother everything, and police found Riddell drunk at the school with the empty cider bottle.
Defence counsel Nick Rout urged Judge Callaghan to impose a jail sentence no longer than18 months, lower than the term the Crown was pressing for, and said he believed that without treatment Riddell might keep reoffending.
Judge Callaghan said Riddell had written him a letter which “clearly comes from the heart”. He wrote of being badly affected by his remand in custody for sentence, and asking to have a restorative justice meeting with the boy’s family. That may take place after sentencing.
Riddell apologised for his behaviour and asked for name suppression but the judge said there was no basis for it.
He told Riddell: “Your offending in a sexualised manner is worrying, not because of the way you are, but because you clearly – when affected by alcohol – prey on other people who do not want your attention or desires.”
The boy’s mother said he was now displaying behavioural issues. “I do hope he can get some help with them, either through family or professional assistance,” said the judge.
He said Riddell had an alcohol addiction which contributed to his penchant for sexual offending. He needed a rehabilitation course such as the STOP programme for sex offenders, and there had now been three alcohol and drug assessments done on him.
Judge Callaghan imposed sentences for doing an indecent act on the boy, indecent exposure two days before that, drink-driving, and driving in breach of a zero-alcohol licence, dangerous driving, and failing to stop for the police.
After his driving was reported by a member of the public, Riddell had accelerated away and the police had abandoned the chase, but later found Riddell, sitting in his stopped car with the engine still running.
Jail terms totalling 16 months were imposed, and the judge banned Riddell from having any contact with a child under 16 unless under the supervision of an “informed adult”. He also banned him from schools, pre-schools, parks, playgrounds, reserves, and swimming pools.
Riddell is also disqualified from driving indefinitely – he will have to apply to get his licence back – and he cannot apply to have an alcohol-interlock licence for at least a year.