A 16-year-old Adelaide boy in state care, who was lured by an older man online and then sexually abused, has been left “embarrassed” and is “no longer able to trust people”, a court has heard.

Key points:

  • Richard Squires met a 16-year-old boy through the app Grindr
  • He got him to come to his house and lie about where he was
  • Squires will spend at least two years and eight months in jail

Richard Ian Squires, 39, appeared in South Australia’s District Court today via video link, after pleading guilty to two counts of unlawful sexual intercourse and failing to comply with a bail agreement.

Judge Adam Kimber told the court Squires ordered a ride-share vehicle to bring the teenager to his house in January, after connecting with him on the social media app Grindr at the end of last year.

“You knew the victim was 16 years of age before any sexual activity. You also knew the victim was under some form of guardianship and care,” Judge Kimber said.

The court heard Squires was then “knowingly part of the deception of those looking after [his victim]”.

“The police later attended to conduct a welfare check on the victim who spoke to the police and told them that he was merely visiting a friend but that he would head home … Instead, he returned to your home, he returned to you, and you kissed him … and then had sexual intercourse.”

Victim encouraged to lie

The court also heard Squires told his victim that he was not permitted to be around minors, “as a consequence of [his] bail conditions”.

“You sought the victim out and encouraged him to lie so that you could offend,” Judge Kimber said.

In sentencing, Judge Kimber said it should have been obvious to Squires that the boy, who has been in care since August 2020, was “particularly vulnerable”.

“He has experienced sadness and a sense of fear, and is embarrassed about what occurred … It is likely that the impact upon your victim may be worse than for other victims his age, because of his particular vulnerabilities.”

Squires was sentenced to four years and six months in prison, with a non-parole period of two years and eight months.

Opposition MP concerned by ‘heartbreaking’ case

Child Protection Minister Rachel Sanderson today said she had been briefed on the Squires case.

“We have an eSafety procedure policy that all children in young care sign when they have a device that is given to them,” she said.

“Part of that agreement states the rules and responsibilities and what they are allowed to do.

“Of course, going on a dating app — firstly you have to be over 18, so it’s illegal. They shouldn’t be going on it anyway but we do have a signed agreement.”

Child Protection Minister Rachel Sanderson says she has been briefed on the case.(ABC News)

Opposition child protection spokeswoman Katrine Hildyard described the case as “heartbreaking” but also concerning, given a review by former District Court Judge Paul Rice which condemned Ms Sanderson for not being proactive enough with her department.

Ms Sanderson ordered the review into the Department for Child Protection’s reporting practices after she was blindsided by news that two teenagers had fallen pregnant while in state care.

Two paedophiles were sentenced within months of each other for offences against a 13-year-old girl and a 14-year-old girl.

On both occasions, Ms Sanderson admitted she had not been informed of the incidents.

Ms Sanderson today said authorities had “recently instigated a significant reporting unit”.

“I have regular updates with my executive team,” she said.

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