Kenneth James Dawson (left) walks from court after receiving a suspended sentence for two counts of sexual assault.
Kenneth James Dawson (left) walks from court after receiving a suspended sentence for two counts of sexual assault.

Cleaning boss ‘embarrassed’ after touching teen

The boss of a Sunshine Coast cleaning company says he is "embarrassed" for isolating a teenager and touching her on two occasions.

VK Cleaning Services owner Kenneth James Dawson, 66, saw an opportunity when a young woman joined his large team of cleaners.

It was her first day when Dawson, from Buderim, checked on her as she carried out a job solo.

Police prosecutor Brendan Newman told Maroochydore Magistrates Court that Dawson drew the teenager in for a hug before squeezing her bottom with both hands.

She froze in disbelief.

The court heard Dawson isolated the young woman later in the day, following her to a storage room.

He squeezed her on the bottom again as he was walking behind her.

"After this occurred she stated that you went to the front of her, rubbed your hand up the front of the victim's pants from her vagina area to her hips," magistrate Haydn Stjernqvist repeated to Dawson in sentencing.

"She stated she began to shake and panic and exited the room."

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The court heard the young woman now suffered depression, struggled to sleep and felt like she had to avoid an area of the Sunshine Coast.

Dawson downplayed his actions in his first interview with police, admitting only to hugging the woman.

On Thursday morning, he pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual assault.

Kenneth James Dawson walks from court after receiving a suspended sentence for two counts of sexual assault.
Kenneth James Dawson walks from court after receiving a suspended sentence for two counts of sexual assault.

The court heard it was an early plea of guilty by the father-of-two who had no criminal history.

A letter from Dawson tendered to the court said he was sorry for the hurt he caused.

"It is totally out of character for me," he said.

"I'm ashamed of my actions and apologise to her."

Character references were also tendered to the court from another of Dawson's employees and an ex-police sergeant who he had known for decades.

Defence lawyer Anna Smith said Dawson had owned his business for 20 years and been married for 41 years.

She said he helped care for his wife who had a health condition.

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"He is sincerely remorseful and embarrassed for the offending and that is demonstrated by his apology letter and his plea of guilty," Ms Smith said.

She said Dawson had employed hundreds of cleaners over 20 years and had not received any other complaints.

Ms Smith submitted a fine or community service was an appropriate penalty.

Mr Stjernqvist disagreed, saying he had to consider the criminality of the offending and the large disparity in age between Dawson and his victim.

"She was in a very vulnerable position and of course that has been taken advantage of," Mr Stjernqvist said.

"So where they talk about predatory behaviour in comparative cases, that's exactly what this was."

Dawson was sentenced to six months' jail, suspended for two years.


*For 24-hour sexual violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636.

 



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