Youth worker jailed for child sex offences

HIS attraction to boys emerged 20 years ago as a Newcastle Scout leader, and yesterday the law caught up with former Hunter Aboriginal Children’s Services chief executive Steven Larkins when he was jailed for at least 19 months for child sex offences.

Larkins, 46, was a 25-year-old Scout leader when he got in bed with an 11-year-old boy and indecently assaulted him in 1992, Newcastle Local Court heard.

He committed a similar act on a 12-year-old boy five years later and the Scout movement restricted his access to children while police investigated one of the incidents. Larkins was not charged.

In 2004 he forged documents to conceal the allegations so he could obtain a clearance to work with children as part of his duties with Hunter Aboriginal Children’s Services.

There, he was responsible for organising foster care and support for Aboriginal children and their families.

It was a co-worker who found a USB stick belonging to Larkins in a company car that contained 55 videos of child abuse material.

Police searched Larkins’s Mayfield home and found cartoons depicting child pornography on an iPhone, an iPad and a computer, magistrate Ian Cheetham said.

He jailed Larkins for 22 months with a non-parole period of 19 months.

Larkins was escorted from the court by two Corrective Services officers.

Mr Cheetham said Larkins had a moderate to high risk of reoffending.

‘‘He has had an inappropriate interest in young boys,’’ Mr Cheetham said. ‘‘[That interest] may still exist.’’

Larkins received some form of gratification or enjoyment from viewing images and videos of boys aged 10 to 15, Mr Cheetham said.

Larkins was a victim of abuse as a child, the court heard.

Mr Cheetham noted that Larkins had lost his career and had been isolated in the community after the case received widespread publicity.

As well as the jail term, Larkins was placed on a good behaviour bond for three years.

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