A man has written “some poetry” for a judge about how he is “not sorry” for grabbing a startled teenager’s buttocks at a Canberra service station just a week after being released from jail.
Tony John Childs, 49, was found guilty in the ACT Supreme Court on Wednesday of committing an act of indecency without consent.
Tony Childs leaves court on Thursday
The verdict followed a jury trial at which he unsuccessfully tried to defend himself against the charge.
Childs returned to court for sentencing on Thursday, when Associate Justice Verity McWilliam said the incident in question occurred last November.
She said the 17-year-old victim had been with a female friend at the Braddon 7-Eleven when Childs, who had just finished serving time for previous offending, approached them.
Crown prosecutor Ryan Roberts alleged at trial that Childs had commented, “I’m going to f— one of them”, before putting an arm around the girl’s waist and grabbing her buttocks.
Associate Justice McWilliam said two witnesses had given evidence of having seen this, and the jury’s guilty verdict suggested it was satisfied that was what had happened.
There was no victim impact statement before the court, but the judge said any young woman grabbed by a stranger at night would no doubt have felt shocked, scared, violated and angry.
“The impact may have been temporary but is by no means negligible,” she said, adding that offences of indecency “should always be condemned”.
Associate Justice McWilliam indicated she had received a letter from Childs.
The 49-year-old man described the missive as “just some poetry”, and the judge said it “expressly stated that he was not sorry”.
Childs also verbally told Associate Justice McWilliam: “If I was guilty, I would’ve pleaded guilty. That’s all I have to say.”
Despite Childs’ lack of remorse, Associate Justice McWilliam said the man had already “spent far more time in prison” than she would ever have sentenced him to.
The court heard he had been behind bars on remand for eight months following the incident.
Mr Roberts said it was important that the sentence imposed on Childs addressed the 49-year-old’s alcoholism, which appeared to be behind his offending.
He told the court the community would be at risk if Childs “was to go out tonight and get half-sloshed”.
Childs agreed he had a drinking problem and said he was “not against” the idea of getting help, though he insisted he only found trouble when he was living “on the street”.
He said he planned to leave the ACT because he had “no friends” in Canberra, expressing a desire to move closer to family in Perth where he would not be homeless.
“I do not like [the ACT],” Childs told the court. “I do not like these people.”
Recognising that Childs had already served “a lengthy period” of incarceration, Associate Justice McWilliam sentenced him to a six-month good behaviour order.
It included conditions that the 49-year-old accept supervision, which could be transferred interstate, and obey reasonable directions about getting treatment for alcoholism.
Associate Justice McWilliam wished Childs well, telling him she hoped he could “live a positive life … outside the spotlight of police”.
But Childs, who has what was described as an “extensive” criminal history, already seemed to be quite impressed with his life.
“My parents didn’t think I’d make it to 25,” he replied. “I’m nearly double that.”