Lismore Court House in Zadoc Street.
Lismore Court House in Zadoc Street. Marc Stapelberg

Man appeals jail sentence over upskirting at Lismore airshow

UPDATE, 4.15pm: A MAN who was jailed for producing child abuse material has appealed his sentence.

Rodney Paul Erickson, 63, was sentenced to 18 months prison, one year of that without parole, earlier today.

Shortly afterwards, his solicitor launched an appeal against Magistrate David Heilpern's decision.

Erickson had pleaded guilty to the charge, which stemmed from an incident where he photographed and videoed a nine-year-old girl in Lismore in July.

In a bail application, the court heard Erickson had been on bail since his arrest on that day and had been fully compliant with his bail conditions.

The court heard he would be willing to comply with a curfew and other conditions, if granted bail while he awaits the appeal.

Mr Heilpern said a key factor in determining bail before Erickson's appeal was the "prospects of success of that appeal".

"Whilst I'm quite open to the thought that a different court may take a different view, I would have thought the prospects success on appeal are extremely limited indeed," he said.

"There is not a risk of him serving a significant proportion of his sentence (before the appeal) given that he would be able to first appear in the District Court in about six weeks.

"In my view, the risks to the community are far too great to grant bail."

The matter will go before the Lismore District Court at a later date.


Original story: A MAN who took inappropriate photos and a video of a young girl in Lismore will spend at least a year behind bars.

Larnook man Rodney Paul Erickson went quietly into custody after Magistrate David Heilpern handed down his sentence on Monday.

The 63-year-old was charged with producing child abuse material after he took the images and footage of a nine-year-old girl at the Lismore Airshow on July 29.

He pleaded guilty to the charge earlier this year.

The court heard his victim was laying against her father, apparently observing aircraft, when Erickson took the images up her skirt.

He was initially apprehended by way of a citizens' arrest.

The court heard Erickson was suffering from depression, anxiety and insomnia at the time of the incident.

But Magistrate David Heilpern said this did not mean he there "ought to be a lesser penalty".

He said a community corrections order, which Erickson's lawyer suggested, would not match his crime.

Mr Heilpern said Erickson denied the allegations during a police interview, then made admissions after the tape was turned off. He pleaded guilty at the first opportunity before the court.

He said the charge was less serious than distributing child abuse material, but more serious than simply possessing it.

"The victim, nine years of age, was attending an airshow," Mr Heilpern said.

"(She) was attending there with her father."

He said the girl's underpants were visible as she leaned back, "presumably looking at aeroplanes above her".

"The defendant took advantage of that and took photographs and a video of her," he said.

"The only assessment that one can make is that the (purpose) of that material was for sexual gratification."

Mr Heilpern noted the images were few in number and weren't at the most serious end of the scale.

But he deemed the offence "very serious" nonetheless.

"It represents an extraordinary and gross breach of trust," Mr Heilpern said.

"Children are laying about innocently but are able to be taken advantage of.

"It's an extreme breach of trust for an adult to do this to a child.

"The fact that young members of the public and their families have to guard themselves against people who can't resist depravity is appalling."

He said Erickson had "no less than three prior matters" which were "broadly of the same type" on his criminal record and that a "power imbalance" was present in this offending.

He sentenced Erickson to 18 months prison, with a non-parole period of 12 months.

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