Former show president jailed for molesting children

HIS position in the community as show and rodeo society president emboldened him to molest young children who looked to him with trust and respect.

Neville John Fanning, 74, had been known across southeast Queensland as a horseman and campdrafting judge and through his role as Warwick Show Society president he was given a position of trust by young children.

He has never shown remorse for his offending against young children who looked to him for guidance riding horses and learning to drive cars at young ages.

As he sat in the dock of courtroom five in the Toowoomba District Court wearing a hearing device, Fanning yesterday showed no remorse as he was found guilty of three counts of indecent treatment of a child under 16.

What the six-man, six-woman jury hadn't been told was Fanning had been found guilty at two previous trials for similar offending against other children.

Those actions, Judge Deborah Richards said, were "not out of character" for the formerly respected community member.

The two-day trial heard Fanning, in 1992, had been teaching a young girl to drive a ute on his property - something he had done before. As the young girl sat on his lap, he worked the pedals while she steered and as they drove back to the house, Fanning assaulted her.

On two other occasions, while Fanning was teaching her to ride a horse, he assaulted the girl, touching her inappropriately.

"She is not the only child you have assaulted over the years," Judge Richards said.

"So it can't be said that this offending is out of character for you.

"You've shown no remorse."

Barrister Steve Courtney, for Fanning, said a conviction at a previous trial had led to his client's swift fall from grace and after he was first charged with the offences, he resigned from his position as show society president.

"He is no longer permitted to judge campdrafting," Mr Courtney said.

"Not surprising," Judge Richards replied.

Mr Courtney said Fanning had struggled during a four-month prison term and had been dealt a "harshness" when he was released in February this year.

"There is a level of harshness in that process," Mr Courtney said.

"He is also, of course … a registered sex offender."

Crown prosecutor Elizabeth Kelso tendered a victim impact statement to the court which spoke of the "significant impact" of Fanning's offending.

Ms Kelso also said the victim "had to speak on three occasions in the public domain" about the offending.

"The offending can only be described as a gross breach of trust," she said.

Fanning will be eligible for parole on May 31, 2018.

"I do take into account the fact you are a man of mature years," Judge Richards said in her sentencing remarks. "This has been a significant fall from grace.

"The other side of the coin is of course that it was that position of respect in the community that seems to me emboldened you to act the way that you did because you had contact with these people who were keen on horses - young children keen on horses - and that actually gave you the opportunity to offend.

"Offending of this nature is very serious, particularly where someone has offended against other children."