Maffra man convicted over lewd online chat

A MAFFRA man has received an 18-month community corrections order, after being convicted of charges relating to communicating online about children in a sexual way.

Facing Sale Magistrates Court on Tuesday, Iain Stewart was charged with using a carriage service in a way that a reasonable person would regard as being offensive.

The court heard that between February 10 and September 15, 2015, the former Maffra Rotary Club president, Paul Harris Fellow and GippsDairy board member spoke online with another man about children in an explicit way, for his own gratification.

The prosecution alleged Stewart communicated via online text-based chat and video chat with the man, speaking about being aroused by shared images of sexually exploited children. 

Magistrate Fiona Hayes said the content of the conversations troubled her, and while the victims of the behaviour were unknown to Stewart, they were known world-wide.

“It wasn’t a one-off offence; it was a series of conversations that took place over a period of time,” she said.

“I’m sentencing around the conversations held ... and the ease of which he was able to have these conversations.”

Stewart denied the allegations, and other charges were withdrawn.

The indictable offence was his first, and he was not placed on the sex offenders’ register.

In addition to the community corrections order, the magistrate ordered that Stewart be assessed by a sex offender treatment program.

Gippsland Senior
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