Lifestyle Solutions founder David Hogg is ‘guilty’, says jury

AFTER THE VERDICT: David Hogg, flanked by his legal team to the left and supporters to the right, leaves the Downing Centre courts in Sydney on Friday afternoon. His legal team will consider an appeal.
AFTER THE VERDICT: David Hogg, flanked by his legal team to the left and supporters to the right, leaves the Downing Centre courts in Sydney on Friday afternoon. His legal team will consider an appeal.

LIFESTYLE Solutions founder David Benedict Hogg has been found guilty of a single count of sexual intercourse without consent at his District Court trial in Sydney.

He remains on bail until April but Judge Antony Townsend said it was likely Mr Hogg was facing a custodial sentence.

There were audible gasps in the rear, glassed-off public gallery at the rear of the courtroom in the Downing Centre in Sydney when the jury chairman announced the verdict soon after 12.30pm on Friday.

Mr Hogg’s only noticeable reaction was to shake his head once and then close his eyes, which he appeared to do repeatedly during the subsequent round of legal discussion after the jury was thanked and dismissed. He was sitting in the same chair, facing the jury, he had occupied for all of the trial, except when giving evidence.

The complainant, who cannot be named for legal reasons, began crying immediately and was still shedding occasional tears – comforted by a supporter – some 20 minutes later.

Outside the court she said she felt overwhelmed by events but believed “justice has been served”.

“I did this so that other vulnerable people can feel safe,” she said.

Mr Hogg’s solicitor, Hugo Aston, had no comment beyond saying an appeal would be considered.

Judge Townsend continued Mr Hogg’s bail, with a number of conditions, and set down a sentencing hearing for Thursday, April 5.

Mr Hogg’s conviction relates to an incident on Friday, July 29, 1988, when the court found he took the complainant for a drive to the south-east pylon of the Harbour Bridge and had sexual intercourse with her – by way of digital penetration – without her consent.

He was a married 35-year-old Baptist minister and she was a 16-year-old Year 11 school girl from Carlingford High who had been in his care that week on work experience.

He acknowledged going for a drive to talk about problems she was having but he denied leaving the local area, and denied touching her in any way.

Having called for further guidance on Thursday afternoon, the jury was told by Judge Townsend that experience showed they would come to a verdict if they concentrated on those parts of the evidence they still disagreed on. This they did after another 2½ hours on Friday.

Crown solicitor-advocate Andrew Metcalfe opposed bail, given what he said was the likelihood of a custodial sentence, while Mr Hogg’s barrister, Mark Dennis, said there was no risk to the community, and no risk of Mr Hogg not reappearing.

Judge Townsend allowed bail under various conditions, including that Mr Hogg report to Waratah police station three times weekly, and that he not be alone in the company of anyone under 18, or anyone who was a ward of the state.