Brian Peter Rogers (right) leaves court after pleading guilty to possessing child exploitation material. Photo: Elyse Wurm
Brian Peter Rogers (right) leaves court after pleading guilty to possessing child exploitation material. Photo: Elyse Wurm

‘Bizarre’: Boatie stalks case worker in Cyclone Debbie claim

AN AIRLIE Beach boatie, whose vessel was destroyed in Cyclone Debbie, stalked the case manager attempting to help him with his claim in the aftermath.

The conduct ultimately led to the 62 year old being found with more than 200 child abuse images.

Between February and June 2018, he posted personal details about her on social media, made numerous phone calls and sent numerous emails.

Mackay Magistrates Court heard he posted intimidating and harassing content on his Facebook account and sent unwanted text messages that became offensive over time.

Brian Peter Rogers told police he believed he had been in a relationship with the woman, claiming she had told him over a message she had feelings for him.

"She had to move house, change her phone number and deactivate social media and deactivate her email accounts," prosecutor Chelsea Pearson told the court.

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The victim was employed by the Department of Communities helping with claims made post cyclone Debbie.

"The messages and posts accuse the victim and her work team of being incompetent and then became more aggressive towards (the woman)," Ms Pearson said.

"She stated over time the constant harassment had affected her life and her emotions."

The court heard the woman did not want to leave her home and avoided places for fear she might run into Rogers.

In July that year, police raided his yacht and uncovered 201 child abuse images ranging from category one to category four, which is one of the most serious levels and involves actual sex acts with children.

Last month, Rogers pleaded guilty to two counts of possessing child exploitation material and was jailed for 12 months wholly suspended for two years. He is now a registered child sex offender.

Brian Peter Rogers (right) leaves court after pleading guilty to possessing child exploitation material. Photo: Elyse Wurm
Brian Peter Rogers (right) leaves court after pleading guilty to possessing child exploitation material. Photo: Elyse Wurm

Magistrate Bronwyn Hartigan said the stalking case was very different to the other conduct and she needed to consider what penalty he would have received at the time.

The court heard at that time he only had two minor entries on his criminal history.

Barrister Phil Moore said his client lost the yacht he lived on at Airlie Beach during Cyclone Debbie.

Mr Moore said the man's complaints were linked to a situation where a replacement boat, based in Brisbane, had been recommended.

On bringing it back up to the Whitsundays he had to stop at Mooloolaba because he needed a radio and some safety equipment.

"She told him the radio and other equipment had been posted. It never arrived," Mr Moore said.

Rogers ultimately continued north but ran into a severe storm at Double Island Point where police told him to abandon his boat. He did not.

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Mr Moore said his client was seeing a mental health counsellor about the cyclone and storm, which left him with post traumatic stress disorder.

The court heard he also told police he had been in a relationship with the victim, although there had been no sexual contact, because she told him over message she had feelings for him.

"He thought about this for a few days and decided he also had feelings for her but did not (speak) further about his but assumed they were in a relationship," Ms Pearson said.

Rogers pleaded guilty in Mackay Magistrates Court on Monday to stalking.

Ms Hartigan labelled his behaviour "bizarre" and questioned whether Rogers would do community service.

Mr Moore said his client was reluctant because of his post traumatic stress disorder.

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On hearing this, Ms Hartigan suggested the penalty would be a $2000 fine, to which Mr Moore said, "yes my client's had a change of heart" and Rogers opted for the community service.

"It's a bizarre set of circumstances especially since you told police you were involved in a relationship with her, which was not true," Ms Hartigan said.

"She felt intimidated.

"I am of the view a community-based order would have been imposed."

Rogers was ordered to complete 40 hours community service in 12 months. A conviction was not recorded.



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