THEY were two young boys growing up in Bundaberg in the early '80s, gifted athletes destined for bright futures.
Today, they are middle-aged men, haven't been able to keep a job, have struggled with substance abuse and depression, and have never been able to have a lasting intimate relationship.
And it's all because of 63-year-old Noel Gough - the monster who horrifically sodomised the two boys, then aged 13 and 14, at a bowling alley where he worked as a cleaner, between August 1983 and January 1984.
Gough pleaded guilty to seven sex offences in the Bundaberg District Court on Monday, including indecent treatment of a child under 14 and sodomy.
Crown prosecutor Sam Bain said Gough, then 33, had befriended one of the boys on a fishing trip and from there, used his position of trust to take advantage of the two boys by performing sex acts on them, including oral and anal sex, which left one of the teenagers injured for days.
"This offending has had devastating impacts," he said.
Gough has previously served about four years in prison for committing similar offences on other young boys in 2000 and 2005.
Defence barrister Patrick Wilson said there was "no doubt" Gough was a man with a "long-term issue".
"He's a man who was very seriously sexually abused himself at a young age," he said.
Judge Leanne Clare said, tragically, both victims had withdrawn from society.
"Free access to a bowling alley at 3am would have seemed like an adventure for a young boy," she said.
"Your motives, however, were more sinister.
"Two young lives were overcome by the poison of your abuse."
Judge Clare said Gough's behaviour was "calculated and predatory" on children who were particularly vulnerable.
She said one of the victims was forever haunted by the sound of Gough's jangling janitor's keys.
"It's said you were the victim of sexual abuse by your own family," she said.
"If that is true, it must have been a terrible burden to bear.
"But having been a victim is no excuse because you, as much as anyone, ought to know how toxic childhood abuse can be."
Because the offences happened in the '80s, Gough had to be sentenced in accordance with the legislation of that time.
"The approach of the courts to sentencing was not as severe as it is today for people who preyed on young children," Judge Clare said.
Gough was given a head sentence of five years for his crimes, to be suspended after he has served nine months.
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