By Cam Lucadou-Wells
A former Keysborough man has received a suspended jail term over historical sexual offences with a 15-year-old girl more than two decades ago.
Glenn McArdle, now 47, was found guilty by a County Court of Victoria jury of sexual penetration, attempted sexual penetration and an indecent act with a child under 16.
He was found not guilty of rape, attempted rape and causing a child to take part in prostitution.
In 2001, McArdle was 26 when he met the girl on a web messaging service ‘Teen Friend Finding Australia’, sentencing judge Kellie Blair said on 29 July.
The pair met at the horse paddocks on the corner of Stud and Brady roads, Dandenong North, and were boyfriend-girlfriend for several years.
Judge Blair said the jury was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that McArdle knew the girl was under 16 at the time of offending.
Maximum penalties were more lenient at the time of offending, compared to the current day, the judge noted.
“It must, however, be recognised that the courts now have a greater understanding of the devastating impact sexual offending has upon child victims.”
In 2018, the matter was reported by a recent ex-partner of McArdle’s, leading to his arrest and charges.
The victim had been caused “significant harm”, testifying to “terrible nightmares” and fears for her children’s safety, Judge Blair stated.
“I accept the victim’s evidence that the relationship was flawed and at times toxic and this led to her leaving you…”
McCardle’s offending was not characterised as “purely predatory and exploitative”.
Witnesses described the relationship as a “normal boyfriend girlfriend type relationship except for the difference in age”.
Despite the significant age gap, Judge Blair found there was not a significant power imbalance in the relationship.
“Although you were 26 years old you presented as somewhat younger and immature.
“On the other hand, the victim presented as more mature for her age.”
McCardle, who grew up in Keysborough, and was schooled at St John’s College in Dandenong, had no relevant convictions. He had not reoffended for more than two decades.
He was assessed as a low risk of reoffending sexually, and diagnosed as not having a paedophilic disorder.
The only sentence that could be imposed for the “serious offending” was imprisonment, Judge Blair found.
McArdle was jailed for two years and nine months, which was wholly suspended for three years.
He must report as a registered sex offender for 15 years.