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St Johns Ambulance officer Daniel Symons faces child sex charges involving cadets

22 May 2017

A high-ranking St John’s Ambulance officer has faced trial in South Australia’s District Court accused of pursuing two underage cadets to engage in sexual activity.

Daniel Patrick Symons, 29, has pleaded not guilty to 11 charges alleged to have been committed against two female cadets between 2012 and 2017.

The charges include procuring a child to engage in sexual activity, unlawful sexual intercourse by a person of authority, inducing a child to expose their body, and communicating with the intention of making a child amenable to sexual activity.

The prosecution alleged two of the offences were committed while the cadets were aged under 17 and the remainder occurred after they turned 17.

The prosecution alleged one of the cadets was sexually assaulted by Symons on two occasions, first in his car after he picked her up from her home late at night, and the second in a St John’s office.

Prosecutor Stephanie Borek said on the second occasion Symons asked the cadet to send him naked photos and “to meet him in the bathroom”.

She said the cadet walked out of the room to speak to someone on the phone when “she felt someone behind her”.

“He grabbed her with his hands around her throat and manoeuvred her against the wall,” Ms Borek said.

“He put his other hand into her underwear … she will tell you that she froze.

“The accused stopped, fixed her pants, let her go and went back to the room.”

Ms Borek said Symons contacted both of the cadets through Facebook and asked them about their sexual experiences and interests.

She said one of the cadets was 14 years old when Symons allegedly engaged in online conversations with her about sexual behaviour.

The court heard the cadets and Symons exchanged photos of their exposed bodies.

Ms Borek said Symons engaged in an online conversation where he asked one of the cadets to send him photos of her breasts, to which she responded “it’s child porn”.

“He says, ‘you are 17, almost 18. It’s not illegal, but all good’,” she said.

“He then tells her to go to the toilet and send another one.”

The prosecution alleged that in 2012 Symons suggested the cadet perform a sexual act on him in order to be granted permission to volunteer at a particular event.

The court heard Symons held positions within St Johns Ambulance as a regional commander and then as a state staff officer.

Ms Borek said whether he was in a position of authority at the time of the alleged offending would be a “critical issue”.

The trial before Judge Stephen McEwen, without a jury, continues.”