A 59-year-old man took advantage of a vulnerable boy when he sexually assaulted him five times during a fishing trip, a court has been told.
John Van Mulken sexually assaulted the nine-year-old boy over a two-day period in November 2017 while the boy was in the care of family friends.
He had never met the boy before the fishing trip.
The offending occurred discreetly in the back seat of a vehicle in the presence of other adults, while the boy was asleep and once when he was alone with Van Mulken.
When the boy told him to stop inappropriately touching him, Van Mulken said, 'shhh' and it was "between you and me".
The Ballarat man pleaded not guilty to five charges of sexually assaulting a child under 16 but a jury found him guilty of all charges in November last year.
County Court Judge Sarah Dawes told Van Mulken in a sentencing hearing in Melbourne on Friday he had been found guilty of serious offending.
"You took advantage of a vulnerable boy who was only nine years old. The age disparity between you is significant and an aggravating feature of the offending," Judge Dawes said.
"On two occasions, the complainant was asleep when the offending commenced. Four of the offences were brazenly committed in the presence of the other adults. On the other occasion the complainant was alone in your company, having gone with you to get a drink."
The judge said Van Mulken abused the trust others had placed in him when he took advantage of the boy in their absence.
"The offending was opportunistic. On the first occasion the complainant told you to stop touching him, yet you continued to do so. You sexually assaulted him on another four occasions," she said.
The court was told Van Mulken had experienced an unhappy, disadvantaged and significant traumatic childhood, which resulted in post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression.
He has an extensive criminal history comprising of more than 30 court appearances and has been sentenced to 15 terms of imprisonment.
Judge Dawes said Van Mulken continued to deny the sexual offending and she was unable to conclude he had shown remorse.
Van Mulken was sentenced to two years and nine months' imprisonment with a non-parole period of 22 months. He has served 91 days' pre-sentence detention.
He was placed on the sex offender's register for the mandatory minimum period of 15 years.
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