A South Australian man who detained and tortured a man he met on Grindr so brutally he thought he would die will leave prison on a suspended sentence.
Charlie Michael Edward Caire pleaded guilty to numerous offences, including false imprisonment, aggravated blackmail and aggravated assault.
Warning: graphic content
The District Court was told the 21-year-old set up the fake Grindr profile and was in a “drug frenzy” at the time of the attack in February 2020.
He met the elderly victim in Murray Bridge, south-east of Adelaide, and lured him to a house. Caire detained, blindfolded and tortured the victim during the hours-long ordeal, the court heard.
The “terrifying” violence included Caire probing the man with a taser and an electric drill. He also held a gas lighter to his head, placed his fingers between secateurs and sliced his arm with a knife.
The victim was also injected with a syringe that Caire told him “contained AIDS.”
The court heard the victim was also told “there’d be consequences” if he failed to give him $5,000.
The victim believed he would die and said Caire also told him his body “would never be found”.
Judge Liesl Chapman told the court the victim “bled on the mattress and floor” during the “brutal” attack, ABC News reported.
“The victim [describes] experiencing the most sustained and intense period of physical pain and fear of those hours of imprisonment,” she said.
“He was scared he was going to die.
“It was a brutal attack on the victim, who was particularly vulnerable because of his age.
“He was harmed physically and psychologically because of your actions. To put it briefly, he was terrified.”
Judge describes offender as ‘remarkable’
Caire said he carried out the Grindr attack on the man in his 70s in an act of “vigilante justice”, Chapman said.
The judge said Caire heard the man had sexually assaulted his friend’s younger brother. That unsubstantiated allegation had not been reported to the police, the court was told.
“Vigilante behaviour does not bring about justice,” Judge Chapman said.
“Rather it brings about the opposite, it undermines the criminal justice system.”
Judge Chapman described Caire as a “remarkable” young man who had overcome great adversity in his life, ABC News reported.
“You have shown courage, strength and resilience during a childhood which no child should have to endure,” she said.
“You started training to become a youth worker because you wanted to protect children.
Chapman told Caire “despite all the adversity in your life, you were managing very well.”
“You were doing more than keeping your head above water,” she said.
“You were making positive contributions to the community and were taking positive steps along a clearly defined path.”
Judge suspends Charlie Caire’s remaining sentence
Judge Chapman said Charlie Caire “spiralled” after a relationship breakdown, his father’s death and the loss of his job.
“Everything just broke and you started to spiral downwards,” she said.
The judge said Caire spent thousands on methamphetamine and was “using on a daily basis”.
“At the time of the offending, you had not slept for about six weeks and had barely eaten,” she said.
Judge Chapman sentenced Caire to five-years-and-six-months prison with a non-parole period of two years and 10 months.
She backdated the sentence to February 2020, when Caire was first taken into custody for the Grindr attack.
Chapman said she believes Caire is “truly remorseful” for his “out of character” offending. She suspended his remaining sentence.
A joyful Caire threw his arms up in the air and thanked the judge, according to the ABC.
“I’m sure you didn’t expect that outcome,” she said.
Judge Chapman said Caire would better rehabilitate in the community under supervision.
Caire will leave jail and sign a three-year good behaviour bond in the District Court in Adelaide.
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