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Man Who Groomed Boys For Sex Jailed

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, Oct 21 NZPA - A former Christchurch bus driver has become the first person in New Zealand to be sentenced for sexual grooming of young people without being convicted of more serious sexual offending as well.

A Christchurch District Court jury convicted 59-year-old Robert James Ferguson of sexually grooming two 15-year-old boys he met on the buses, at the end of his three day trial last month.

But it acquitted him on charges of sexual violation and indecent assault, Christchurch Court News website reported.

Crown prosecutor Kathryn Dalziel said at his sentencing today that it was the country's first conviction for sexual grooming alone.

That offence -- which was enacted by Parliament mainly to prevent internet predators preying on young people -- carries a maximum penalty of seven years imprisonment.

Judge Jane Farish said that the maximum was the same as for indecent assault offences.

"Parliament had the view that people who groom young people for sexual purposes must be dealt with in a deterrent and condign way."

Defence counsel David Bunce said Ferguson has lost his job as a bus driver as a result of the offending and this had led to serious financial difficulties and resulted in him being declared bankrupt.

Judge Farish noted the publicity about the case had caused Ferguson to become even more socially isolated than before.

She told Mr Bunce she might have considered a community-based sentence if Ferguson was a first offender. But he had six convictions for indecent exposure and convictions for indecent assaults on boys in 1991 and 1992. He had already done the STOP programme for sex offenders.

She also noted the serious family effects arising from his latest offending.

"This was a serious breach of trust. You were a bus driver and the boys should have been safe in your care," she said.

Instead, Ferguson had befriended them, taken them on an outing and invited them to his home when he knew their parents were away. He had paid them to massage his sore leg.

She said there had been premeditation in the offending and Ferguson was assessed as a medium to high risk of reoffending. He was seen as having a deviant sexual interest in children.

She made allowance for his ill-health, his otherwise good character, and the losses he had already suffered and jailed him for 26 months.

"Mr Ferguson, you need to take whatever therapies are available to you while serving this sentence so you can come out and not be a risk of offending in a similar way," she said.

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