Max Hobbs has been banned from setting foot inside the Corrimal Bowling Club for 15 months as part of his punishment for indecently assaulting one of the club’s female staff members.
Hobbs, a long-time president of the club, was found guilty in August of deliberately sliding his finger down the back of the woman’s pants and flicking her underwear while she worked at the club last year.
The woman said she was kneeling on the floor speaking with 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.
Hobbs was charged with indecent assault but denied intentionally touching the woman, instead claiming he’d been trying to “tap her on the back” to say goodbye and his finger had slipped.
He also said muscle wastage in his hand and arm wouldn’t allow him to perform the movement he stood accusing of doing.
However, Magistrate Peter Thompson said there was “no doubt” in his mind that Hobbs deliberately put his finger down the woman’s pants, citing CCTV footage that clearly showed him lean his body down as he approached her.
“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,” he said.
“I have no doubt in my mind that the accused reached down and touched the victim on the buttock.”
At a sentencing hearing on Friday, Magistrate Thompson said Hobbs continued to maintain his innocence, even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
“He’s not a person who I can consider has shown any remorse or that I can consider has any insight into his behaviour,” he said.
“Perhaps he thought it was some sort of prank or joke, but I can’t make that finding without any evidence. It it was, it certainly was in poor taste and out-of-date.”
Defence barrister Fiona Jowett described Hobbs’ actions as “a momentary encounter” that occurred in public and did not involve any grooming, “pre-advances” or sexually predatory behaviour towards the victim.
She said he was an “exemplary” person who was involved in many sporting and recreational clubs and was well-regarded in the community. She confirmed Hobbs had voluntarily stood down from the role of president and that the victim no longer worked at the club.
Magistrate Thompson placed Hobbs on a community corrections order, with the condition he not enter the bowling club premises for the duration of the order.
Ms Jowett said Hobbs lived about 200m away from the club and visited it every day so a ban would be especially detrimental for him.
“It will impact on his social interactions with a good number of people,” she said.