AN ENGINEER who was studying to be a teacher has been jailed for sexually assaulting a child while the pair played Minecraft.
Gregory Robert Halliday - who had no criminal history - went straight to jail on Wednesday after a jury found him guilty of indecently treating a child.
The verdict followed a three-day trial in Hervey Bay District Court.
The 50-year-old man pleaded not guilty to the charge on Monday.
The jury heard the man inappropriately touched a seven-year-old girl, who was barely known to him, while she was sitting on his lap.
He was instructing her to play Minecraft at a computer in his home in July last year.
Crown prosecutor Katrina Overell said the victim was visiting the man's house, after his and her family became friends, when he took the girl into a study room, isolating her from others at the house.
Judge John Robertson described the offence as "prolonged" and "opportunistic".
Taking the witness box to defend himself during the trial, Halliday denied the claims and said he did not recall any inappropriate touching.
He said if there was any, it would have been "accidental" when he helped secure the girl on his lap as she began to fall off.
"I didn't intend to make any contact," Halliday said.
The victim's mother told the court her daughter described the touching like "scratching" and lasting the "entire" Minecraft game.
Halliday, a married man and a father of two, was 49 years old at the time of the offence.
He lost his Blue Card following the accusation, and his career goal has been crushed.
"Your plan to become a teacher is at an end as a result of this conviction," Judge Robertson said.
"Your many years of studying a Bachelor of Education have been wasted."
Halliday has relocated from the Fraser Coast to Orange, New South Wales since the incident.
He was sentenced to nine months in jail, to be suspended for 12 months after serving four months behind bars.
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