60-year-old appeals jail sentence for dirty phone calls

A MAGISTRATE has warned the community needs protection from a Stawell man who stalked women using his mobile phone in a series of sexually explicit calls.

Sentencing Harold Thorne, 60, to six months’ jail yesterday, magistrate Ian Von Einem said the courts had tried desperately to rehabilitate the repeat offender over the last 38 years. 

“What else is there, but jail, in this case,” Mr Von Einem said. 

“He’s been around these courts since 1976... women and others have to be protected from a person like him.” 

Thorne, who in the past received eight community based orders and three jail terms for his offending, yesterday pleaded guilty in Ballarat Magistrates Court to fresh charges of using a carriage service to stalk.

Reading a summary to the court, police prosecutor Senior Constable Clint Prebble said Thorne began calling an unknown company between January and March last year, speaking to female employees in a sexually explicit manner.

“He would masturbate... telling them not to hang up,” Senior Constable Prebble said. 

The court heard Thorne called the females 22 times in one single day. 

He was arrested on March 18, 2013, and told police “I just wanted to be with someone” when questioned over his reasoning. However, Thorne was arrested a second time on June 4 last year when caught again. 

The court heard that between May 23 and May 30 Thorne called the same women after storing the company number in his phone. 

Again he told the women he was masturbating while they pleaded with him to stop calling. 

Senior Constable Prebble said the victims became “apprehensive and afraid”, fearing more calls from Thorne. 

Paul Smallwood, for Thorne, said his client had a significant intellectual and physical impairment, adding Thorne had been under the influence of alcohol throughout most of the offending. 

“(He has) a genuine lack of ability to engage with others,” Mr Smallwood told the court. 

“He needs rehabilitation.”

Yet Mr Von Einem refused Thorne’s defence, saying Thorne had been given “every chance in the past”.

“(It is) offending clearly, clearly, upsetting to the victims,” Mr Von Einem said. 

Lawyers quickly appealed Thorne’s jail term and he was granted appeal bail.

His appeal will be heard in the County Court at a date to be fixed.