Well-known Gladstone man jailed on several child sex charges
Well-known Gladstone man jailed on several child sex charges Pixabay

Former Gladstone youth worker jailed for sex with child

THE unlawful relationship between a 12-year-old girl and Gladstone youth worker Manuel Robert Beezley began as a "school-girl crush".

By the time she was 14, the relationship with the man 20 years her senior developed into something sinister.

Beezley, a former youth worker and teacher aid, pleaded guilty in Gladstone District Court to several child sex abuse charges dating back to 2001, including maintaining an unlawful relationship with a child, five counts of the carnal knowledge of a child under 16 in care, indecent treatment of a child under 16 in care, carnal knowledge of a child under 16 and unlawful sodomy.

The-father-of six committed the offences between October 25, 2001 and April 1, 2003.

He was 34 at the time and employed as a youth worker at a centre for the homeless.

Beezley met the girl when she became a student at the high school he worked for. She was homeless and also lived at the centre. What started as a passing smile and friendly conversation between the pair escalated to sex after the girl developed "a crush" on Beezley. The court heard the pair conducted the relationship in secret and regularly had unprotected sex over the years, including at the centre. When the teen turned 17, Beezley sodomised her.

The teen left the centre and the relationship ended, however, in 2016 the pair reconnected. The court heard when the victim discovered Beezley was in a relationship, she reported the offending.

In a victim-impact statement, the woman said as a young girl she thought she was in love. Looking back, she told police she "felt disgusted" for letting it happen.

Defence barrister Scott Moon said in a phone call between the pair the victim told Beezley she had reported him.

Beezley replied: "It will probably f---ing kill me but I have to accept it... I f---ed it up."

"I have been waiting for a knock on the door from police since the day you left here," he said.

The court heard Beezley told his lawyer he was entirely responsible for the offending and "the child had no blame".

Mr Moon said although the offending was "egregious", there was never any violence or threats made to the victim.

He said his client "regretted every day" what he had done.

The court heard he did not contest any of the facts.

Now 51, Beezley suffers from several health conditions and Mr Moon said his time in jail would be difficult as a result.

He asked Judge Nathan Jarro to impose a jail term on the lower end, given Beezley's remorse, family orientated personality and cooperation with police.

Judge Jarro told Beezley he took "advantage of a vulnerable child" while he was in a "position of power".

"Children do not have the emotional and intellectual capacity and maturity to consent," he said.

"This was a breach of trust, you were a youth worker and you were supposed to protect her. "I think you knew this day was coming."

Beezley was sentenced to six-and-a-half years' jail, eligible for parole on February 23, 2021.