A 50-YEAR-OLD man whose house was set alight by the young boy he had forced into prostitution “lit the match” to his own fire, the Hervey Bay District Court heard yesterday.
Reginald Thomas Fordham was sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison for maintaining a “disturbing and destructive” relationship with a 14-year-old boy, which will be served concurrently with a two-year sentence for indecent treatment of the child and an additional six months for repeatedly exposing himself to a 22-year-old woman.
Last April the victim, who by that time was 16, set fire to Fordham's home.
It was only when he fronted court charged with arson that the sordid details of his and Fordham's two-year relationship were revealed.
When reading out her decision Judge Leanne Clare told Fordham he had taken advantage of his victim and made him his “rent boy”.
“You picked him as a child you could buy,” Ms Clare said.
“From the moment he said he would be prepared to whip you for $50 you used him.
“You have preyed on him and corrupted him.”
The court heard that while penetration never occurred, the acts were sadomasochistic and at the highest end of “sexually deviant” behaviour.
It was also revealed that he had a long history of sex-related offences and had faced court on five counts of arson.
Ms Clare said Fordham's behaviour had left the victim “degraded and shamed” and set him on a path to alcoholism and liver disease.
She said that, at 18, the victim was already showing signs of cirrhosis and that his addiction had stemmed from the “destructive period” in which the abuse occurred where Fordham traded alcohol, cigarettes and money for sexual favours.
“I don't think it any coincidence that you lubricated him with alcohol,” she said.
“It seems to me he took it to get through whatever you had in store for him.”
While she conceded the victim may have consented to the behaviour Ms Clare said the experiences must have been “deeply disturbing” for a 14-year-old and that the case was a perfect example of why it was illegal for children to make decisions about sex before they were 16.
“He was too young,” Ms Clare said.
“That is why the law protects children under 16 regardless of their own consent.”
Fordham will be eligible for parole on January 29, 2014.
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