Noosa councillor Frank Pardon found guilty of indecent treatment of a child

A Noosa councillor accused of indecently assaulting a teenage girl in the 1990s, has been found guilty by a Queensland jury.

Councillor Frank James Pardon, 70, was facing 11 child sex abuse charges, for acts alleged to have occurred in the 1990s at a Sunshine Coast business, his home and car.

Today in the District Court trial in Maroochydore, the jury found Pardon guilty of 10 of the 11 charges.

He was found guilty of five counts of indecent treatment of a child under 16, four counts while under care, and one count of maintaining a sexual relationship with a minor.

Noosa Shire Mayor Tony Wellington said Pardon would now lose his job.

Pardon's offences included incidents when he took the victim and a school friend to a local pool then a business, supplied them with alcohol and touched and kissed the victim, as her friend watched on.

The councillor was acquitted of one count of indecent treatment of a child while under care.

Throughout the eight-day trial, the court heard from a number of witnesses, including the victim, her former school friend, employees of the business, Pardon and his ex-wife.

The victim gave evidence in closed court about the incidents, with a support person by her side, and behind a screen separating her from seeing the accused.

The woman's former school friend was next to be cross-examined, telling the court about a time she had been with the pair, and witnessed Pardon kissing and touching her friend.

Speaking outside court, witness Kate Gibson, a former acquaintance of Pardon's, said she was thrilled with the result, and "justice had finally been served".

"I am feeling elated and very happy to see justice be demonstrated in this matter," she said.

"It's a happy day for justice and a happy day for victims of these kind of crimes, it's a very happy day for the victim."

Throughout the trial, Pardon's defence barrister Andrew Hoare suggested the victim and her friend — teenagers at the time — were impacted by alcohol, and such interactions never took place.

When giving his own evidence later, Pardon also denied the allegations, stating while he was with the girls at the pool and business, they had been "acting like pork chops" due to being drunk, and had placed the back of their hands on his crotch.

On the second day of the trial, Ms Gibson gave evidence describing a phone conversation with the accused, during which he allegedly admitted to having a "serious, emotional relationship" with the teenager, and described him as "obsessed".

Pardon rejected the claims, stating he was talking about another woman he'd been in love with during the call.

Crown prosecutor Greg Cummings told the jury it wasn't possible Pardon had been speaking about someone else, due to specific details Ms Gibson knew about the victim, including about a former boyfriend who had died.

'You were so young'

Other evidence heard included a phone conversation between the victim and Pardon years later, in which the woman can be heard telling the accused how the offending had impacted her.

Pardon can be heard replying "Oh it did affect you? I would have left my wife and everything for you. It was hard."

"You were so young, we got close to real intimate at times, the resistance.

"I remember saying until you were 16 or older I didn't want to do anything over the top."

During cross examination, Pardon said he told hundreds of women he'd "leave his wife for them" as a "term of endearment", but didn't address the parts where he commented on her age.

He told the court he'd meant to tell the victim, "I didn't want you to do anything over the top sexually before you were 16."

Mr Cummings suggested Pardon was lying and told the jury the phone call was an admission of guilt.

Two psychiatrists were also called to give evidence throughout the trial, about the impacts hypnotherapy treatment could have had on the victim's memory, even if the abuse hadn't been raised during a session.

One psychiatrist said it wasn't possible for light level hypnotherapy to alter or create memories, while the second psychiatrist insisted it could.

Charges for maintaining a sexual relationship with a minor carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, while indecent treatment of a child over 12 carry a maximum sentence of 14 years.

Pardon has been remanded in custody and is due to be sentenced on Friday.

Questions over Pardon continuing as councillor while on trial

Local Government Association of Queensland president and Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson said it's hard to understand why Pardon was able to continue in his role after being committed to stand trial.

He refers to former Ipswich CEO Carl Wulff and ex-Logan councillor Stacey McIntosh, who were sacked from Ipswich and Logan councils, following allegations of corruption and other matters.

"We've seen people removed from their positions as councillors for, you could argue much lesser offenses," he said.

"If the councillors in Ipswich and the councillors in Logan and others around the state who've been removed — their crimes (those found guilty) would probably be considered considerably less than child molestation."

'I am deeply disturbed'

Mayor Tony Wellington said Pardon would automatically be disqualified from his councillor position upon receiving a custodial sentence.

"However, custodial sentence or not, I don't believe it is appropriate for Frank Pardon to continue his councillor role," Cr Wellington said.

"As a father to a daughter and grandfather to a beautiful granddaughter, I am deeply disturbed by the outcome of the trial.

"I extend my sympathies to the young woman, who had to go through this ordeal, no-one should have to endure such an experience. My heart goes out to her and her entire family."

Cr Wellington said Pardon would not be replaced ahead of council elections next March.

He said it was possible Pardon had dealt with children in the past two years while he was facing the charges.

"It may well be that Frank Pardon as a councillor dealt with all sorts of organisations, businesses and people of different ages in the community," he said.

"However, he was entitled to the presumption of innocence until the jury's verdict.

"This didn't relate to his role as a councillor, therefore he was entitled to continue in his role."


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