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DPP v Gardiner [2021] VCC 681

The offender was sentenced following plea of guilty to 1 count of using a carriage service to procure a person believed to be under 16 years of age for sexual activity, 1 count of failing to comply with reporting obligations, and 1 count of using a carriage service to procure a person under 16 years of age for sexual activity whilst on bail. Additional State offences were taken into account.  

Nature and Circumstances: In 2006, offender was convicted of sexual offending again a child and registered for life under Sex Offenders Registration Act. Offender operated under a deal of secrecy and guile to commit the three principal offences to evade detection. Over the years offender continued to trawl the internet looking for children. Offender had vast and long-time trawling of Snapchat to communicate with hundreds of females. Offender retained and used hidden internet identities to go into teen social media and chat rooms.  

COVID-19: Time in custody was affected by COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. Immediate effect was a reduction and suspension of vocational and personal improvement courses, restrictions on ability to move around the prison, severe reduction in work available and a suspension of visits. The more insidious effect of the pandemic was the stress and isolation – the fear that the pandemic would penetrate into the prison system and so isolation has been used as a strategy to limit close contact.  

Rehabilitation: Psychologist concluded that offender did not meet, and probably never met, the diagnostic criteria for paedophile disorder. Regardless of personality traits or disorders, offender has a long history of sexually targeting children. Offender has prior convictions in 2004 for making and possessing child exploitation material in relation to a 10 year old, and conviction in 2006 for committing indecent acts in relation to a child under 16. Community must be afforded a measure of protection. As late as the date of psychological testing, which occurred after plea of guilty was entered, offender was still failing to acknowledge aberrant nature of offending, even after having previously completed the sexual offender treatment program. Rehabilitation prospects are poor.  

Offender sentenced to 3 years, 4 months and 1 day imprisonment with a 1 year and 11 month non-parole period.
The CSD acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as First Australians and recognises their culture, history, diversity and their deep connection to the land. We acknowledge that we are on the land of the traditional owners and pay respects to Elders past and present.

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