Teacher who sexually assaulted Year 5 girls fights for freedom

FILE PHOTO: A Coast teacher convicted over sex crimes against two of his Year 5 students has had his failed in his appeal attempt.
FILE PHOTO: A Coast teacher convicted over sex crimes against two of his Year 5 students has had his failed in his appeal attempt. Chris Chan GLA131011MOOT

A PRIMARY school teacher serving a two-year jail sentence for sex crimes against students in his Year 5 class has lost an appeal to overturn his conviction and won't be allowed to appeal his sentence.

In November last year Steven Gary Watson was found guilty of one count of maintaining an unlawful sexual relationship with a child under 16 and four counts of indecent treatment of a child under 12 under care.

The charges related to two of his female students, aged between nine and 11 at the time.

During the first few weeks of the girls' first term in the Year 5 class, Watson touched one girl's bottom while the two were reading together, and when she was turning on computers at his request.

Another girl, who was nine or 10 at the time, gave evidence Watson squeezed her bottom outside her clothes.

Watson was acquitted of a further six charges of indecent treatment of a child under 12 under care, involving two more girls from his class.

Last month Watson appealed his conviction, arguing each girl's allegations should have been heard in separate trials, that the jury was inconsistent in its findings, and that the jury should not have found his conduct amounted to a sexual relationship.

Last week three Justices of the Supreme Court of Queensland dismissed his appeal.

In their judgment the justices said Watson used his position as a teacher to "gratify his urges by sexually assaulting two young children in his care".

"He instructed one of his victims, aged 10, to make no complaint and, as he desired, she obeyed. He was, after all, her teacher," the judgment read.

"He offended separately and serially against two children entrusted to his care by their parents.

"He did not plead guilty. He has shown no remorse."

The justices found it was appropriate for all the allegations against Watson to be heard together and the jury that heard Watson's case had shown a "fine appreciation" of how they could make use of the evidence put before them.

They further found it was "unarguable" that the way Watson touched the girls' bodies was sexual in nature, and so his conviction on a charge of maintaining an unlawful sexual relationship was justified.

The maximum penalty for maintaining a sexual relationship with a girl aged 10 or 11 was life imprisonment.

The justices said it was "impossible to infer error from the sentence" Watson was given, which was two years prison for maintaining an unlawful sexual relationship, and six months in prison for each of the four other charges.

He was ordered to serve the terms concurrently, and have the two-year prison term suspended after serving one year in jail.

Watson was refused leave to appeal his sentence.

Topics:  sexual assault supreme court teacher

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