Lester Shelton leaves Ipswich court.
Lester Shelton leaves Ipswich court.

Attorney-General to review Ipswich alleged sex offence case

AN IPSWICH judge is seeking clarification after an elderly man faced child sex offences linked to the Philippines.

The matters have been referred to the office of the Federal Attorney General for clarification over the Ipswich court's jurisdiction to handle the charges.

Lester Gilmore Shelton, 81, from Basin Pocket, is charged with a range of offences including 19 counts of planning sexual intercourse with a child; eight counts of encouraging an offence against a child; three counts of procuring a child to engage in sexual activity outside Australia; 16 counts of using a carriage service to solicit child pornography; using a carriage service to transmit/make available child pornography material; and possession of child exploitation material.

Shelton's case went before Ipswich District Court in September when it was listed for sentence but Judge Dennis Lynch QC pointed out concerns he had with some charges including the allegation of causing a person to engage in a sexual act with a child outside Australia.

Judge Lynch queried the allegation that Shelton engaged in conduct with the intent to encourage a child under 16 to engage in sexual conduct outside of Australia with a person in a position of trust; the child's parent.

Commonwealth prosecutor Imogen Taylor said it was alleged Shelton encouraged a woman to commit the offence.

Judge Lynch referred to legal provisions of the relevant Commonwealth legislation and queried how the mother, who was not a citizen of Australia, could commit an offence against the Australian law when she was outside Australia.

Ms Taylor said this did not prohibit his (Shelton's) legal liability in encouraging the woman's activity overseas in sexual acts with a child under 16.

Judge Lynch said he had no comparative cases or legal precedent to refer to.

Ms Taylor said there had been a case in South Australia in which a man was sentenced to a 40-year jail term.

Ms Taylor said the case did fit within the legislative regime in that it would be alleged Shelton encouraged someone outside Australia to offend, making him criminally culpable in regard to his conduct.

Defence barrister Scott Neaves said he accepted the Crown's position with the matter.

Judge Lynch said he was reluctant to proceed, saying he had read the Crown material suggesting Shelton, in his discussions with police and a psychologist, indicated "he didn't have any intention of engaging in any sexual activity with children in the Philippines when he visited there".

The case retuned to Ipswich District Court this month with barrister Michael Copely QC appearing for the Commonwealth.

An outline of Commonwealth submissions on the case had already been filed with the court, along with one relevant legal authority and the Commonwealth Criminal Code.

Argument continued around the reach of legal powers in a case in which an Australian citizen is alleged to have committed an act that encouraged someone elsewhere in the world to engage in sexual relations with her daughter.

Mr Copely asked for an adjournment of the matter and referred questions about the relevant legislation to the office of the Commonwealth Attorney General and Queensland Attorney General. The case was adjourned to February 11 and Shelton was released on bail.