Man appeals jail sentence for indecently assaulting nine-year-old girl at Bendigo Aquatic Centre

Lucas Adrian Gilbert has appealed his jail sentence for indecently assaulting a nine-year-old girl at the Bendigo Aquatic Centre.
Lucas Adrian Gilbert has appealed his jail sentence for indecently assaulting a nine-year-old girl at the Bendigo Aquatic Centre.

A NORTH Bendigo man who indecently assaulted a nine-year-old girl at Bendigo Aquatic Centre has appealed his jail sentence.

Lucas Adrian Gilbert, 42, pleaded guilty in the Bendigo Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday to charges of indecent assault and possessing child exploitation material.

The court heard Gilbert attended the Bendigo Aquatic Centre last summer, where he repeatedly stared at the young girl.

The girl’s mother felt uncomfortable by the man’s attention, saying he “stood out because of the frequency of the stares”.

Pool staff also noticed Gilbert, and decided to “keep an eye” on him.

Gilbert approached the girl while she was lining up for the diving board.

He then followed her when she moved to another pool, where he touched her inappropriately, before stepping back.

Three swimming pool staff witnessed the indecent assault.

When approached by the pool manager, Gilbert immediately left the area and drove away in his car.

Police arrived at the scene and took down Gilbert’s details, before visiting his residence where he was arrested, interviewed and released.

Police seized a laptop inside the premises which was later found to contain 51 images of child exploitation material. They were in category 1, depicting children aged 5 to 16 in naked poses.

Defence counsel Kate Youngson said Gilbert has “a number of issues”, including alcohol dependency and mental health issues.

She said Gilbert could not recall the incident at the swimming pool.

“Mr Gilbert has very little recollection, he was under immense stress at the time,” Ms Youngson said.

“He’s dealing with his mental health issues.”

Prosecutor Sergeant David Somerton said the court had heard no real explanation for the offending, and the community’s safety should be paramount.

“There’s no suggestion he was affected by alcohol at the time of these offences,” he said.

“There’s really no explanation provided to you (the magistrate) in respect for the motivation of the accused to offend in this way.

“His continual involvement in child pornography should raise some serious concerns about the extent to how he's able to be rehabilitated.

“Imprisonment sends a message to the community.”

The court heard Gilbert was placed on a community order in 2003 for possessing and manufacturing child exploitation material.

Magistrate Sarah Leighfield said Gilbert’s re-offending added to the seriousness of the offence.

“It’s really concerning we are dealing with this on a second occasion,” she said.

Gilbert was convicted and sentenced to two months and 14 days in prison, to be followed by an 18-month community corrections order.

He appealed the sentence and was released on bail.