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Beach predator jailed for molesting teen two weeks after child porn conviction

The man met the 16-year-old girl at Wollongong’s popular South Beach. Photo: Andy ZakeliA man who molested a 16-year-old girl 20 minutes after meeting her on a beach and just two weeks after being convicted of possessing child pornography will stay behind bars for at least 19 months.
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Michael Hogan, 28, was sentenced to an overall prison term of two years and nine months in Port Kembla Local Court on Tuesday after being found guilty of two counts of indecent assault.

The charges relate to claims Hogan grabbed the girl from behind in a bear hug as they walked from a Wollongong beach to his car, then once inside the vehicle, touched and rubbed her right thigh against her will.

A third allegation of touching her on the buttocks as she entered the car was found unproven and dismissed.

The court heard Hogan had introduced himself to the teen while she was sunbaking on South Beach near the WIN Entertainment Centre on August 31, offering to give her a lift into town.

The girl declined, however they walked to the car park together and Hogan continued to pressure her into getting into his car.

She reluctantly agreed after a time, telling the court she felt obliged when Hogan took her belongings and put them in his car.

She also noted he was much bigger than her.

The court heard Hogan committed the second act of indecency – rubbing her on the thigh – as he drove towards the Wollongong CBD, before pulling up at a cinema and letting her out.

She immediately went to Wollongong Police Station to report the matter.

In court on Tuesday, Magistrate Gerladine Beattie said she’d found the teen to be an impressive witness, who had given a frank and credible account of what had occurred that day.

“She answered questions promptly and she reasoned her answers sensibly in court,” Magistrate Beattie said.

“She certainly didn’t give the impression of someone who was fabricating evidence… [or] of someone who was hiding things that may have happened.”

Magistrate Beattie dismissed Hogan’s claims he hadn’t touched the girl, noting the evidence pointed to him taking “an unusual interest” in the girl.

“The undisputed evidence before the court paints a picture of [Hogan] very quickly taking a very close interest in a stranger, moving from a basic hello to a blanket offer to help her at any time that she may need within a space of 20-25 minutes,” she said.

Following the guilty finding, defence lawyer Aaron Kernaghan asked the court to accept that Hogan was in “a difficult place” at the time of the offence, noting he’d been convicted of possessing child pornography less than two weeks before committing these crimes.

With time served, Hogan will be released on bail in March 2017.

Illawarra Mercury

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