Judge jails child molester

A substitute teacher’s relentless sexual molestation of a former Liddiard Road student has attracted a six-and-half-year minimum jail term.

Strathmerton resident Gregory Vinen, 57, begins serving a potential maximum of nine years in protective custody this week, after being sentenced in Latrobe Valley County Court on Thursday.

Vinen had pleaded guilty to five related charges on the day he was due to go to trial, shaving three years off a potential maximum 13 year jail sentence for the 11th hour plea.

Judge Michael Tinney read out a summary of incidents Vinen inflicted on his victim over a seven-year period, commencing in their first classroom encounter as a grade three substitute teacher during the 1980s.

“You actively targeted and groomed this boy. You indecently assaulted him on the very first day that you met him,” Judge Tinney said.

In a regime of abuse lasting “half his young life”, Judge Tinney said Vinen used his role as a teacher to gain trust with the victim’s parents, enabling the “warping depraved conduct” which prosecution had estimated involved about 200 separate incidents.

“What you did to this young boy is on any view an outrageous and serious crime conduct deserving strong denunciation by this court. You knew it and should be ashamed of yourself,” Judge Tinney said.

“Your crimes deeply scared him and affected every aspect of his life, how could they not?”

Judge Tinney said there was no sentence available to erase the negative impact on the victim, who watched on during sentencing.

“I am not naive. The court process will not work some miraculous cure in his life, but may spark some brighter phase in his life, courtesy of hearing your guilty pleas,” he said.

Gauging Vinen’s threat to the community upon his eventual release, which would see him placed on the serious sex offenders register, Judge Tinney said he had to ignore the fact Vinen had been acquitted on similar matters in the early 90s.

“It would simply not be right for me to look inside that acquittal. I must ignore that material and treat you as a man without no relevant convictions and prior history,” Judge Tinney said.

“I believe you have a relatively low risk of reoffending. You have now been exposed as a child sex offender… one would expect you would have to complete sex offender treatment in custody.

“You will be isolated completely from the role that brought you into contact with children.”

Judge Tinney laid down the sentencing consequences of Vinen’s persistent claims of innocence since conducting his first police interview in 2012, noting it showed little sign of remorse.

“It must be recognised that you have actually pleaded guilty. I reward you for it, it is worth a lot. You have facilitated the course of justice and spared witnesses from giving evidence at trial,” Judge Tinney said.

“Until the day of (plea) settlement you pushed ahead full steam with complete denial of any offending until the day of trial.”