A 44-YEAR-OLD man who touched a female backpacker while she slept has escaped spending time behind bars after he was handed a 12-month wholly suspended sentence in the Bundaberg Magistrates Court.
Darren Gregory Herron pleaded guilty to five charges yesterday; two counts of entering a dwelling and commit an indictable offence, two counts of entering a dwelling with intent and one count of sexual assault.
Police prosecutor Sergeant Barry Stevens told the court that, shortly before 11.30pm on October 26 this year, Herron walked from his white BMW, which was parked out the front of the North Bundaberg Backpackers in Queen St, and into the hostel.
He told the court that Herron walked through the premises, which consists of a number of rooms and communal facilities, before entering an unlocked room.
Sgt Stevens said Herron walked in and out of the same room three times within a number of minutes.
On the first occasion he took a bag and wallet belonging to one backpacker, the second time he took a bag belonging to another backpacker.
Sgt Stevens said it was on the third occasion that he touched the woman, who was asleep in the room
The court heard the complainant woke to find the defendant touching her genital area, with his hand inside her shorts but outside her underwear.
When the victim screamed Herron fled the scene.
Defence barrister Nick Larter said his client was "heavily intoxicated" and had no memory of the incident.
He said Herron was suffering depression after the break up of his long-term marriage.
Magistrate Aaron Simpson asked Mr Larter if Herron had provided any explanation for the offending but Mr Larter said he had not as he had no recollection of the incident.
In sentencing Mr Simpson said it was important to send a message to Herron and the community that this type of conduct would not be tolerated and said the victim would have been terrified.
In handing down the sentence he took into account Herron's timely plea and the fact that he had no history of similar offences.