Man who claimed 'therapy' convicted of indecent treatment

A MAN has been found guilty of three counts of indecent conduct with a girl under the age of 16 and sentenced to two-and-a-half years in jail.

After a three-day trial in Gladstone District Court, the jury took four hours to make a decision and found Gary McKenzie Vlies guilty.

Judge Michael Burnett said the man had abused trust placed in him.

"You told the child to keep it a secret," he said.

Throughout the trial, the defence argued Vlies had only been treating a skin condition on the girl's inner thigh.

But in conclusion, Judge Burnett said the jury didn't accept that the man's conduct had any therapeutic merit.

Earlier in the day, Judge Burnett had told the jury the credibility of the girl would be vital in considering a conviction.

"If doubts persist about touching of the vagina, but no doubt of the upper thigh, you may consider the motive of the defendant," he said.

"You may consider if there was a genuine therapeutic reason to touch the thigh, but only if you reject the child's evidence."

He said touching of the vagina was unlawful if the jury could not find any therapeutic reason to do so.

When deciding the sentence for the man, Judge Burnett said he would take into consideration his punishment, social deterrent, safety of the community and his rehabilitation.

"You put the child through the trouble of having to come to court and be cross-examined, indicative of your lack of remorse," Judge Burnett said.

"I will also take that into consideration when delivering my sentence."

He sentenced the man to two-and-a-half years jail, suspended after 16 months, for maintaining a sexual relationship with a child.

Both counts of indecent conduct with a child brought 18-month sentences.

He will serve all three sentences at the same time.



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