Internet obsession blamed on attempted rape of teen boy

AN INTERNET-obsessed bank teller was acting out an online inspired fantasy the day he broke into a Lismore home and tried to strangle and rape a teenage boy, the NSW Supreme Court has heard.

Robert Joseph Bland was just 20 when he ventured into a townhouse where a 15-year-old was sleeping.

The victim told the court he thought he was dreaming when he woke to find a plastic bag being tied around his head and his arms strapped to his bed with a belt and business tie.

He said he asked "what are you doing" but Bland didn't reply, pulled his boxer shorts down and began to masturbate him.

When the victim managed to free a hand, Bland said "stop defending yourself" and slapped him several times.

Bland then placed his hand over the victim's mouth and nose and pressed down on his throat.

The victim called for help but Bland closed the windows.

With his face pressed to the mattress, the victim heard a zip being opened and, fearing he was about to be raped, "moved his body quickly around the bed", causing his attacker to "fall off".

As Bland fled, the victim removed the bag from his head, armed himself with a metal pole and dialled 000.

When police knocked on his door, Bland tried to tell them he had once owned a belt similar to the one found at the victim's house but that he had given it to an op-shop six months beforehand.

He said had previously been a friend of the victim's older brother and may have left a female stocking, which he used to cover his head while he was wearing female wigs, at his home in 2010.

CCTV footage showed Bland walking past a shop, 50 metres from the victim's home, carrying a black back pack, which was later discovered at Bland's home.

Inside the backpack, police found a yellow rope, two long-sleeved gloves and "numerous" sealed condoms and lubricant.

Bland was eventually sentenced to 10 years jail with a non-parole period of six years.

He appealed on the grounds there had been a "miscarriage of justice" and the sentence was "manifestly excessive".

The Criminal Court of Appeal heard Bland had been relentlessly bullied as a teenager and was suffering post- traumatic stress as a result of seeing a former boyfriend being through a glass window for "being gay".

Psychologist reports revealed Bland had entered into, by means of the internet, "a world sometimes called of parallel reality that he was therefore disassociated first of all from real life and secondly, was living in a form of fantasy world…he was not clear whether he had actually fantasised what the facts were in this case or had actually carried them out".

In passing sentence the original judge had considered "two competing issues" - the need to protect the public and the youth of the offender, who was clearly in need on intense counselling and rehabilitation.

The review panel quashed the appeal after finding the sentencing judge had appropriately taken into account both factors as well as the seriousness of the offence and the impact it had on the victim, whose re-occurring nightmares forced his family to move house.

Bland will be eligible for parole in 2018.

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