Child sex offender jailed for 'deceptive' conduct

BY ANTONIO BRADLEY
Last updated 05:00 04/08/2010

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Upper Hutt Leader

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A 22-year-old convicted child sex offender from Totara Park has been jailed for "secretive, deceptive" behaviour involving a church youth group and Naenae College.

Brad Anthony Bowers was sentenced to 10 months' jail in June after he attended Hutt City Baptist Church youth services and became involved in a Naenae College cultural production, violating parole conditions.

He befriended the children he met using the social networking website Facebook, court documents released last week show.

Bowers has previous convictions for sexually grooming a young teenage girl in 2007 and performing indecent acts on her.

Naenae College principal John Russell said Bowers was a "smooth" conman who was involved with the school for about a week after he was introduced via the church.

He promised technical equipment for a cultural production, including 12 container loads from the United States, but did not deliver, Mr Russell said.

Pupils felt "funny" about Bowers' behaviour, and some had counselling from the school.

"It is important for kids to realise you have to have your antennae up. It's particularly complex when it comes through a church ... where there is an element of assumed trust," Mr Russell said.

The incident also served as a warning against online social networking. "It's very difficult for kids to understand if you put anything on Facebook ... you are publishing it to the world."

The college would now screen anyone who had contact with pupils. Previously, technical contractors had been exempt.

Judge Ian Mill said at the June sentencing Bowers' ongoing breaches were "impulsive" but a "real worry" and put young people at risk.

He had failed to engage with a 12-month community programme to rehabilitate sexual offenders, and left exhibiting "secretive, deceptive" behaviour, a psychological report said.

The judge gave Bowers credit for an early guilty plea.

Hutt City Baptist Church did not respond by our deadline.

Bowers’ criminal history timeline:

2007: Auckland: Sexually grooms a young teenage girl and performs indecent acts on her.

Upper Hutt: After setting up lighting at a school, sends indecent text messages to almost 20 young teenage girls and boys from the school. Finds their numbers on social networking website Bebo. Later says the texts gave him "sexual gratification".

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2008: Sentenced to two years' intensive supervision for 2007 offences, but breaches conditions and commits theft.

2009: Sentenced to six months' home detention for breaches, but breaches new conditions by using the internet.

2010: Ordered not to have contact with children, use the internet or a cellphone.

Lower Hutt: Attends weekly youth services at the Hutt City Baptist Church from May.

Befriends young people and contacts them using website Facebook.

Seen having coffee with a child from the church at a cafe.

Becomes involved in cultural production at Naenae College in May.

Contacts pupils through Facebook. Gains access to school computer containing student files, including addresses and contact details.

Seen at Secret Level Youth Centre using the internet with children under 16 present.

- Upper Hutt Leader

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