Former Ballarat police officer Leslie Lane has been jailed for the fifth time for child sex offences after he was sentenced on Friday for molesting a 13-year-old boy in the 1970s.
The 73-year-old was sentenced to 18 months' jail with 12 months suspended for two years. He would have been eligible for release in six months but he lodged an appeal and was released on appeal bail.
Ballarat magistrate Ron Saines sentenced Lane as a serious sex offender, having already been on the sex offender's register for life.
As a young adult, Lane repeatedly sexually assaulted children between 1972 and late 1980. He has now been sentenced six times for his conduct.
But on all six occasions, including Friday's sentence, Lane was sentenced as a person without any prior convictions.
Mr Saines said this meant Lane's case, where he indecently assaulted the teenager multiple times in Ballarat between 1974 and 1975, was unique.
He said as disclosures were subsequently made, Lane was convicted in the Magistrates' Court in 1996, three times in the County Court in 1998, 2006 and 2017, and once in the Newcastle District Court in 1998.
Lane had pleaded guilty at the Ballarat Magistrates Court to two counts of indecently assaulting the 13-year-old boy.
Aged 28 at the time, Lane had apprehended the boy's older brother riding a motorcycle while unlicensed. As a result, Lane offered to assist the family by taking the boy on outings with him.
During these outings, Lane gave the boy adult pornography and photographed him naked and the sexual offending started and continued over time.
"These features amount to a premeditation and a grooming process in the context of a serious example of continuing and multifactorial breach of Lane's duties as a police officer and breach of a position of trust and authority with the child and his family," Mr Saines said.
"Accordingly, I find these offences to be a most serious example of such offending, with aggravating features."
Mr Saines said Lane's offending had had a deep and profound impact on the victim, who disclosed the offending about four years ago when he told his wife and reported it to the police.
The victim's wife, who was in court on Friday, said in a statement Lane's offending had affected the couple's marriage and life in general.
"The accused may not, in 1975 have been able to foresee the extent of that impact. But he would have known his conduct upon a vulnerable victim to have been wrong, and seriously so," the magistrate said.
Mr Saines said the other remarkable feature of the case was Lane's remorse and personal rehabilitation, which he began in the 1980s.
"The accused's own evidence of his self-disgust and wretchedness of his offending, and of his realisation and self-education of the shameful and deeply harmful conduct he engaged in, does establish true remorse. These matters do entitle the accused to a significant measure of leniency," he said.
Mr Saines said Lane had not reoffended in the past 30 years and a number of medical issues meant imprisonment would be more onerous than for most others.
"I conclude that for the purposes of sentencing, like the learned County Court judges before me, I proceed on the basis that there is little if any evidence of risk of reoffending, and on the basis that the need for emphasis upon specific deterrence here, no longer exists," he said.
Under the current law, Lane's indecent assault offences would have been considered sexual penetration of a child which is punishable by up to 15 years' imprisonment.
The indecent assault charges were punishable by up to five years' imprisonment and they could be heard in the lower court. Lane's appeal hearing will be held in the County Court at a date to be fixed.
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