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- Unreported Judgment
The Queen v Bosma QDC 127
DISTRICT COURT OF QUEENSLAND
R v Bosma  QDC 127
DC No. 789 of 2016
District Court, Brisbane
31 May 2016 (delivered ex tempore)
31 May 2016
A Sanderson for the Crown
D James for the Defendant
Office of the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions for the Crown
Lawler Magill for the Defendant
- HIS HONOUR: Mr Bosma, would you stand up, please, sir. Mr Bosma, you pleaded guilty to one count of using a carriage service to groom a person under 16 and three counts of using a carriage service to procure a person under 16 years of age to engage in sexual activity. The offences occurred over a relatively short period of time. You were a resident in New South Wales and had subscribed to social networking. Initially, it was an adult site and you came across a photograph of the supposed girl in this case. You made contact with her. You indicated you wanted to make further contact with her. That evolved into both social networking, Skype contact, texting and in the end some telephone calls.
- It proceeded over a period of about six weeks. There was, in fact, no girl of 14. There was a police operative, but it’s clear that you believed it was a girl of 14. The conversations quickly descended to sexualised chat on your part and it plainly indicated proposed sexual activities that you wished to conduct with her. There was a period of time that’s described as the grooming period when you were simply indicating a desire for some sort of platonic relationship, but in my view it quickly descended into an indication that you were sexually interested in the respondent. There were many communications that described sexual acts that you wished to perform upon her and they are contained in counts 2, 3 and 4.
- Of most seriousness is the fact that you discussed meeting with the person and, in fact, a meeting place was organised. You arranged a meeting with her on the 15th and 16th of May of 2015. You, in fact, flew from Sydney to Brisbane and attended on the meeting place. You were met with police. You were arrested at that stage and remanded in custody for a period of something like 11 days. In a police interview you made some admissions and you pleaded guilty to the charges at an early stage. A significant factor in the matter is that you were a teacher in a primary school at the time and, obviously, in a position of trust in relation to children.
- The arrest also became the focus of media attention. The arrest itself was, in fact, filmed and later played on national television. It also received substantial media coverage in newspapers and I’m told that there is also international interest in the story. It seems to me the publication of this sort of material serves a proper purpose in terms of general deterrence in relation to people that might be interested in offending in this sort of way. It’s plain also that the fact that there was no actual child is irrelevant in terms of the serious nature of this charge. The fact that in some cases there are actual children is, in reality, an aggravating feature of the offences.
- Both the parliament and the community are concerned with these offences and the ease with which they can be committed. The offence of grooming carries a 12 year maximum sentence. The offences of using the internet to procure carries 15 years as a maximum penalty. Those maximum sentences are indicative of how seriously the community and the parliament consider these offences. It’s something that needs to be taken into account in the formulation of the appropriate sentence. It seems to me on the basis of the comparable sentences, particularly the matter of R v Engeln  QCA 313, which in my view is a more serious example of this type of offending, that a sentence in the vicinity of two years as a head sentence is the appropriate one.
- It seems to me there are features in some of those cases which are not present here, in particular, the transmitting of indecent images to children or supposed children and the possessing of child exploitation material in the offenders. Neither of those is present here. In terms of your personal background, the offence occurred when you were 50 years of age. As I said, you were employed as a teacher in New South Wales. You have no previous history whatsoever. However, what you do have is a long-standing history of depressive illness and that was present prior to these offences being committed. The psychologist’s material indicates that you were acutely stressed and depressed with suicide ideation. And I note, in particular, the diagnosis of Dr Keane that you are suffering from a moderate and recurring major depression.
- She was of the view that your judgment was impaired as a result of that condition at the time of the commission of these offences. I accept that. It seems to me your previous history, which is spoken of highly in the personal references of you, particularly your dedication to teaching, indicates that there was something amiss in your thinking at the relevant time. I note in that regard there’d been a number of stresses in your life, including the death of your mother, a falling out with your brother over estate matters and particularly a marital break-up going on at the same time as the commission of these offences.
- It seems to me that that aspect needs to be taken into account in mitigation of your conduct. You’ve also dealt with the matter appropriately since your arrest. You are now in receipt of ongoing treatment and, in fact, you put yourself into hospital for inpatient treatment for a period of about a month at considerable expense to try and address the various issues that you face. It seems to me that that is also a feature that needs to be given recognition in any penalty that’s imposed. You, obviously, appreciate the serious nature of this offence and I accept for the purpose of sentence that you are remorseful and ashamed.
- An aspect of that is the publicity that this matter achieved. It plainly identified you, identified you as a teacher and identified you as involved in this sort of behaviour. It seems to me that that sort of public shaming is also a relevant feature to be taken into account. There is also the fact that the commission of these offences has cost you your career and it seems to me appropriate when one considers how dedicated a teacher you were and the references that speak highly of your teaching career with no suggestion of any inappropriate conduct, that that is also a significant loss to you as a result of this offending.
- As I say, I am of the view that a head sentence of two years’ imprisonment is appropriate in relation to the use of the carriage service to procure. However, it also seems to me that there are personal factors in your situation that require a release earlier than would otherwise apply. I am satisfied that the offences should only be met by a prison sentence. It seems to me the circumstances involving an actual meeting being arranged are so serious that a jail sentence is the only appropriate penalty. I’m also of the view because of those circumstances that actual time in custody is required. However, I intend to order your release from that custody after you’ve served three months.
- That release is subject to what’s called a recognisance release order and I need to explain to you what that order entails. It involves you signing a recognisance: in other words, a promise to pay a certain amount of money if you fail to meet up to the terms of the release. So the recognisance release will mean you will serve three months in prison and then be released on a recognisance conditioned that, firstly, you be of good behaviour for a period I’m going to set as five years and, secondly, that you be subject to a probation supervision for a period of two years. The purpose of that order is to enable you to be released earlier than the full length of your sentence and to provide you with the opportunity to carry out the balance of the punishment within the community.
- If you commit any further offences or in any other way breach the conditions of the recognisance at any time during that period of five years you may be brought back before this court to be dealt with for the breach. Depending on the nature of the breach, the court has a number of options. It can impose a monetary penalty. It can extend the length of the bond, although in this case it is the maximum length that I’m proposing. A community service order or an intensive correction order may also be imposed or if the breach is more serious you may be required to serve all the unserved balance of the sentence. You’re not actually required to pay the amount of the recognisance. It’s simply a promise to pay it if the recognisance conditions are not met.
- So what it means, sir, is a sentence of two years’ imprisonment with a release after three months, less the 11 days you’ve served, subject to this recognisance release. You understand?
- DEFENDANT: Yes, your Honour.
- HIS HONOUR: All right. In relation to count 1, I order that you be imprisoned for a period of 12 months. On each of counts 2 to 4, I order that you be imprisoned for a period of two years. Those sentences are concurrent and are to commence today. I order that you be released on recognisance release after serving three months of that sentence. Pursuant to section 19AC of the Crimes Act, I make a single recognisance release order. I order that you be released after serving three months upon your giving security in the sum of $3000, conditioned that you be of good behaviour for a period of five years and that you also be under probation supervision for a period of two years.
- Convictions are recorded. I also note that you’ve spent some time in custody already in relation to these matters. The dates between which you’ve been held in custody are between the 16th of May 2015 and the 26th of May 2015. I declare that period of 11 days to be time served under the sentences. The Registrar of the District Court at Brisbane is to advise the Department of Corrective Services of the content of that order. I order a copy of exhibit 6 be provided to the Department of Corrective Services for the purpose of your supervision in jail and on probation. I particularly bring to Corrective Services’ note that in the past there has been suicidal ideation. It seems to me that needs observation on your being taken into custody. In relation to the application for forfeiture, my order is as per draft as signed and placed with the papers. Are there any other orders needed?
- MS SANDERSON: Nothing further required, thank you, your Honour.
- HIS HONOUR: That covers the explanation of that that’s required, Ms Sanderson?
- MS SANDERSON: It does, thank you.
- HIS HONOUR: All right. Thank you both.
- Published Case Name:
The Queen v Peter Bosma
- Shortened Case Name:
The Queen v Bosma
 QDC 127
31 May 2016