A MAN who indecently assaulted a nine-year-old girl at the Bendigo Aquatic Centre has lost his appeal against a jail sentence.
Lucas Adrian Gilbert, 42, of North Bendigo, believed his offending stemmed from alcohol abuse, but a County Court judge argued that the community “needs to be protected from this kind of offending” and jail was the only option.
Gilbert appeared in the County Court in Bendigo on Tuesday to appeal his sentence of two months and 14 days in prison, with an 18-month community corrections order.
Gilbert was at the Bendigo Aquatic Centre last summer where he was spotted staring at the young girl, before approaching her and touching her inappropriately.
The incident was witnessed by multiple pool staff, and the girl’s mother had also been monitoring Gilbert’s movements.
Gilbert immediately left the area and was arrested later that day.
Police seized Gilbert’s laptop which contained 51 images of child exploitation material.
He was sentenced in the Bendigo Magistrates’ Court in September, but was released on appeal bail.
Gilbert has since committed driving offences after a “relapse” into alcohol abuse following his court appearance last year and was placed on a community corrections order.
Defence counsel Michael McGrath said Gilbert had been compliant with the order and believed his rehabilitation would be better served in the community.
He said Gilbert was “motivated to change”.
“Ultimately, punishment can be in the form of a significant amount of unpaid community work,” Mr McGrath said.
“He has never breached a corrections order, or a court order.
“He is clearly a person with a need for ongoing alcohol treatment. What he needs to commence is a sex offenders program.”
Gilbert was sentenced to five months in prison in 2003, which he served in the community as an intensive corrections order, for possessing child exploitation material, loitering in a public place, acting in an indecent manner in a public place and stalking.
Judge Paul Lacava said the offending had a “similar ring” to what occurred at the Bendigo Aquatic Centre.
He said Gilbert’s conduct was “very unsatisfactory” and the public needed to be protected.
“The whole public, especially young children, are entitled to go with their parents to the local swimming pool and not have someone looking at them, peering at them from a distance,” Judge Lacava said.
“One would have thought that a child accompanied by her mother could go to the local pool safe in the knowledge that she would not be assaulted in an indecent way, but that did not stop the appellant.”
Gilbert was taken into custody and will serve two months and 14 days in prison, followed by an 18-month community corrections order.