No conviction for sex offender wanting to become pilot

A Dunedin man who sexually offended against two boys has avoided a conviction, paving the way for a career as a commercial pilot.

The 20-year-old, whose name was permanently suppressed this afternoon, appeared in the Dunedin District Court after pleading guilty to four charges of sexual conduct with a person underthe age of 16 and one of sending an indecent communication to a person under the age of 18.

Judge Kevin Phillips said giving the defendant a criminal record would “destroy” him.

“There’s no issue … that if there’s convictions entered, his opportunities in relation to a commercial flying career are ended,” he said.

The judge said the gravity of the offending was “low to moderate” and that that was outweighed by the potential consequences of a conviction.

The man’s life would be “totally ruined”, he said.

The defendant met the first victim on an internet chatroom when the boy was 15, and their communications soon moved to social media.

He requested the teen send him lewd photos of himself and the pair spent three months exchanging explicit images.

By January 2018, the defendant started demanding the victim lose weight.

If he did not, photos would be shared with other people, the man threatened.

And he followed through on the threat, sending images of the victim’s genitalia to two friends.

The second set of offences occurred when a 14-year-old, who shared the interests of the defendant, went to his home.

First, the man put his hands on the victim’s crotch while they watched a movie.

He stopped when told to by the teenager but later that day he tried to put his hand down the back of the boy’s jeans.

The act was repeated even as the defendant drove the victim home.

“Please stop,” he repeated, until he was finally dropped off.

That victim read a statement to the court this afternoon, detailing how his life “crashed” after he was molested by the defendant.

“It was like these voices playing on repeat and I couldn’t and still can’t get them to leave me alone,” he said.

“The feel of what you did to me sticks to me as a part of me.”

In situations with other older males, the victim reported feeling “petrified” the same thing may happen again.

While the victim initially self-harmed and blamed himself, he told the court he was now changed.

“You’ve messed with the wrong person … now I’m strong and I feel like I can overcome anything,” he said.

He hoped today would be the last day he ever saw the defendant.

“Actions have consequences,” he said.

Defence counsel Anne Stevens QC said her client had done everything possible since the offending to put things right.

He had apologised to both victims, had done community work for an environmental group and had emotional harm reparation to offer.

The defendant’s parents wrote a letter to the court saying their son had changed in the last year.

They said he now talked openly about his crimes and they believed he had learned from his mistakes.

A psychologist assessed the defendant as being a very low risk of reoffending.

The discharge without conviction was granted on condition he pay both victims $2500.

Judge Phillips told the second victim, who was in court, that the discharge was not intended to minimise the consequences he had suffered.

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