Corrimal Bowling Club boss Max Hobbs found guilty of flicking female staffer’s underwear

Max Hobbs leaves Wollongong courthouse on Friday with a supporter.
Max Hobbs leaves Wollongong courthouse on Friday with a supporter.

Corrimal Bowling Club president Max Hobbs is facing jail time after being found guilty on Friday of indecently assaulting a female staff member.

Magistrate Peter Thompson found Hobbs, 69, deliberately slide his finger down the back of the staff member’s pants and flicking her underwear while she worked at the club last year.

The woman gave evidence in court that she was crouching down with her knees on the floor and her heels resting on her buttocks, speaking to two children, when she felt a finger go down the inside of her pants, towards her bum, and “tug” at her underwear.

She said she jumped up quickly and turned around, prompting Hobbs to smile at her and say “whoops, sorry” before he walked off.

Asked how she felt about the incident, the woman responded “I felt intimidated because it was a man the age of my pop touching me and my bare skin on my bum”.

Hobbs was charged with indecent assault.

He denied intentionally touching the woman during the court hearing, claiming he had been trying to “tap her on the back” to say goodbye and his finger had slipped into her pants when she stood up.

“I never made contact until she moved up to touch my hand,” he said during his evidence.

Guilty: Corrimal Bowling Club president Max Hobbs leaves Wollongong courthouse on Friday after being found guilty of indecently assaulting a staff member.

Guilty: Corrimal Bowling Club president Max Hobbs leaves Wollongong courthouse on Friday after being found guilty of indecently assaulting a staff member.

However, Magistrate Thompson said there was “no doubt” in his mind that Hobbs deliberately put his finger down the woman’s pants with the intention of gaining sexual gratification from the encounter.

Citing footage of the incident caught on the club’s CCTV cameras, Magistrate Thompson said Hobbs’ movements in the moments  before the assault were clear.

“As he moves [towards the victim] he starts to lean his body down and drops his hand down,” he said.

“He bends at the waist and continues to lower his hand – it moves down past her head height, below her shoulder and down past her back. It reaches down towards her buttocks.

“I have no doubt in my mind that the accused reached down and touched the victim on the buttock.

“It wasn’t an attempt to say goodbye. If it had been, he could have easily tapped her on the shoulder or touched her back.

“I’m well satisfied there was an intention to gain sexual gratification in the accused’s actions.”

Magistrate Thompson ordered a comprehensive background report for Hobbs but indicated he was considering the possibility of jail time.

“He’s shown no remorse, it’s a significant breach of trust and it’s skin on skin contact,” he said.

“In my mind, the threshold [for a custodial sentence] has been crossed.”

Sentencing will take place in October.