Predator sexually abused intellectually disabled boy

AN AGEING predator who took advantage of a child with an intellectual disability will spend the next three years in prison.

Bernard Emerson Macdougal, 77, pleaded guilty to one count of maintaining a relationship with a child and one count of possessing child exploitation material when he appeared before Maryborough District Court last week.

The court heard Macdougal met the child "by chance" and over 20 months he had sexual activity with the boy, who was 13 when the offending started, including kissing, mutual masturbation, oral sex, showering together and having the child sodomise him "on occasion".

In addition to the sexual abuse of the teenager, Macdougal was also found to be in possession of 12,000 child abuse images.

Defence barrister Paul Rutledge said his client had faced a difficult childhood.

He grew up "against a background of marital disharmony", Mr Rutledge said, in a family that moved around a lot.

When Macdougal first entered the workforce, he was the target of a "greasing" attack, Mr Rutledge said, which he said was a common practice at the time.

An older male would smear a younger male with a substance, often glue, which was often applied to his genitals.

Mr Rutledge said the attack resulted in Macdougal suffering a nervous breakdown and he spent three to four months in a psychiatric hospital in Cairns.

There he received insulin coma therapy and was kept in a room opposite the padded cells, where serious cases were taken.

"It was a torturous period, a nightmarish experience," Mr Rutledge said.

Macdougal had studied and had a strong work history before he retired, Mr Rutledge told the court.

He had lived in an aged care unit in Maryborough since 2010.

The court heard Macdougal had two prior relevant convictions.

The first was from 1965, when he was convicted of indecent dealing with a boy aged under 14 and the second was from 2005 when he was found with child abuse films in his possession.

"He obviously knows his going to jail, he accepts that," Mr Rutledge said.

"But it's going to take a chunk out of his expected remaining years."

Mr Rutledge said while the charges were serious, there was no suggestion Macdougal had used force or threats.

"There's no suggestion he went out hunting, they met by chance," he said.

Judge Brad Farr told Macdougal he had corrupted the young boy, who had formed feelings for him.

He said because the boy had an intellectual disability, he was a particularly vulnerable child.

"It has had an impact on him," Judge Farr said.

"This offending conduct was born of your own sexual gratification with no concern or thought for the psychological wellbeing of the child."

While taking into account Macdougal's age, Judge Farr said the seriousness of the offending could not be understated.

Macdougal was given a head sentence of eight years in prison, with a parole release date of February 14, 2021.