YMCA worker guilty on 29 charges

A CHILDCARE worker who groomed and molested 12 boys in Sutherland Shire will serve a maximum of 10 years’ imprisonment with six years’ non-parole.

Jonathan Luke Lord, 26, was sentenced in the Downing Centre District Court last Friday on 29 charges relating to the indecent and sexual assault of boys aged six to 11.  

He will not be eligible for parole until October 23, 2017.

Judge Michael King outlined how Lord had befriended many of his victims through his position with the YMCA, working at vacation and before-and after-school care centres.

He also worked privately as a babysitter and looked after children he had met through his family and church. 

The convicted paedophile was first employed as a casual childcare worker at a Caringbah centre in August 2009 before becoming co-ordinator at the YMCA St Patrick’s, Sutherland, in February 2010.

A court heard how Lord had repeatedly put his hands down the pants of victims and touched their genitals between January 2009 and October 2011.

He also performed two sexual acts upon an eight-year-old boy.

These offences occurred on a bus during an excursion and the other in a storeroom at vacation care.

Parents of one victim said their son was too embarrassed to tell them what had happened so instead had written a letter addressed ‘‘to the police only’’, the court heard.

The sexual abuse occurred in many places including the homes of victims, at a YMCA centre, during excursions organised by the YMCA, in a movie theatre, a toilet block and at a boat shed.

Lord was arrested and charged in October 2011. 

He later told police in a handwritten letter that he had molested another four victims, resulting in additional charges.

Lord was formally convicted in November, 2012 after pleading guilty to all charges in August. 

Judge King said the court had taken into consideration that Lord had offered details of the most serious offences, some of which may have gone undetected.

‘‘There’s not a day goes by that I don’t hate myself for doing the things I did,’’ Lord wrote in a letter. ‘‘I just pray they [the victims ] can get the help they need,’’ he said.

A YMCA spokesman said the organisation would undertake a complete review of policies and procedures and continue to offer counselling to anyone affected. ‘‘The YMCA is devastated that despite operating above industry standards we were one of the groups deceived by Lord,’’ the spokesman said.

‘‘As always, our thoughts at this time continue to be with the children and families who have been impacted.’’

During a four-hour-long sentencing hearing  Judge King said Lord had expressed remorse and accepted responsibility for his behaviour  but the circumstances were aggravated because of the position of trust he had held.

‘‘The offender was also in breach of trust placed in him either as a result of his position of trust because of his employment or because he had been permitted by parents of individual victims to babysit them,’’ Judge King said. 

In a dramatic end to four hours of  proceedings, the court was adjourned for about 20 minutes when Lord broke down in the docks and rocked back and forth before his sentence was passed. Court officers were needed to help him stand up before he staggered out of the courtroom.