Former Victorian police officer sentenced for historical indecent assaults against child in Ballarat

ABC Ballarat

By Sarah Jane Bell

two men walk out of a courthouse, one is in his 70s, one in his 40s
Former police officer Leslie Lane (Left) pleaded guilty to multiple indecent assault charges against a child in the 1970s.(ABC Ballarat: Sarah Jane Bell)

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  • A former Victorian police officer, who sexually assaulted a 13-year-old boy in the 1970s, has lodged an appeal against his prison sentence.

    Leslie Lane pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting the boy while stationed in Ballarat in 1974 and 1975.

    The charges related to the victim being indecently assaulted on numerous occasions over a period of months.

    Magistrate Ron Saines said the offence involved a number of aggravating features including the abuse of Lane’s position as a police officer in terms of his dealings with the child victim and his family.

    Lane was 28-years-old at the time of the offending and had apprehended the victim’s older brother for riding a motorcycle without a licence.

    As a result, Lane offered to assist the family by taking the victim on outings.

    On these occasions, the victim was photographed naked and sexual acts were performed on the victim.

    At a later date, the victim was forced to perform a sexual act on the accused.

    Under current laws, the acts would have been considered offences of sexual penetration of a child and be punishable by up to 15 years’ imprisonment.

    Magistrate Ron Saines sentenced now 73-year-old Lane to 18 months’ imprisonment, of which 12 months would be suspended for two years, under the legislation as it stood at the time of the offending.

    Mr Saines said there had been deep and profound impacts over five decades to the victim, who first disclosed the offending to his wife in 2016.

    ‘Self-disgust, shame, self-education’ taken into account

    Mr Saines said it was a unique case as this would be the sixth time Lane was sentenced for sexual offending upon children between 1972 and 1980.

    However he would be sentenced as a person without prior convictions as, at the time of the offending, there were no prior convictions.

    Lane has previously served four terms of imprisonment between 1996 and 2018.

    Mr Saines said the accused was entitled to a significant measure of leniency in sentencing as there was evidence of remorse and an early plea of guilty.

    He said the plea spared the victim the ordeal of public exposure and meant the victim was not required to attend the court as a witness.

    “The accused’s own evidence of his self-disgust and wretchedness of his offending, and of his realisation and self-education of the shameful and deeply harmful conduct he engaged in, does establish true remorse,” Mr Saines said.

    Mr Saines said there was no evidence Lane had re-offended in more than 30 years, and found there was no need for specific deterrence.

    Lane was granted bail pending his appeal.

 


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