A well-known south coast fisherman has been jailed for four years over the sexual abuse of two teenage boys 20 years ago.
- Reinhard ‘Fritz’ Drenkhahn, 69, assaulted two boys in the NSW towns of Eden and Wagga Wagga
- The offences happened between 2000 and 2003
- A victim impact statement revealed the toll the abuse took on the victims
Reinhard ‘Fritz’ Drenkhahn, 69, assaulted two boys in the NSW towns of Eden and Wagga Wagga between 2000 and 2003.
Wollongong District Judge Andrew Haesler handed Drenkhahn a non-parole period of two years and said the local trawler operator had exploited the “confusion and innocence” of his young victims.
“Children are socialised to be respectful and subservient to adults,” Judge Haesler said.
“[Drenkhahn] was otherwise looked up to by children and his actions and motivations would not have been clear to his young victims.”
The small-town fisherman was found guilty of molesting a 13-year-old boy at a south coast rental home.
The victim said on another occasion Drenkhahn tried to put his hands down the boy’s pants and asked if “he wanted to play”.
He was also found guilty of assaulting another boy who Drenkhahn tried to wrestle while naked during a road trip in Wagga Wagga, before the teen pushed him off.
The impact statement of one victim revealed his struggle to escape memories of his abuse.
“I met the offender when I was 10, and he would take me out on his fishing boat,” it said.
“Before I hung out with him, I felt normal. Now I feel like I don’t know who I am.”
The court heard the victim’s life spiralled, culminating in a suicide attempt soon after Drenkhahn was charged.
“I felt lonely at home, I felt lonely at school, but I couldn’t explain what happened,” his statement said.
“I started drinking… I started using heavy drugs and I reduced it, but the memories were too hard.
“I still have a lot to figure out before I can get better… Just thinking about these things makes my mouth dry and I feel sick.”
Drenkhahn was first arrested in 2016, but adjournments delayed his trial for three years.
His lawyer argued the German-born fisherman came from a tight-knit community and had suffered “public humiliation” since his arrest.
But the Crown said Drenkhahn, who has lived in Eden for 50 years, still had “significant support” from some community members and that his case had divided locals.
Drenkhahn has maintained his innocence.
He was last year found guilty on three charges of aggravated indecent assault of a person under the age of 16, one charge of sexual intercourse with a person aged between 10 and 16, and for possessing an unregistered rifle.
He was acquitted of the more serious charge of aggravated sexual assault of a person under 16.
“He should be enjoying his retirement and caring for his wife,” Judge Haesler said in sentencing.
“Now he is a convicted sex offender.”
Drenkhahn will remain in protective custody where he shares a cell with three other inmates.
He will be eligible for parole in December 2021.