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Convicted pedophile moved next door to two young girls, sentencing hearing told

A Crown prosecutor is raising as a central issue a convicted pedophile's behaviour while out on bail when standing accused of molesting a young girl.
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A Crown prosecutor is raising as a central issue a convicted pedophile's behaviour while out on bail when standing accused of molesting a young girl.

In February 2015, a jury found Paul Veeken guilty of sexually interfering with a person under 16 years old and was subsequently sentenced to two years in jail followed by one year probation.

In the aftermath, Veeken, now 45, won a new trial, this time before a judge alone.

But in December, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Lance Bernard effectively upheld the jury's verdict, finding Veeken had inappropriately and deliberately touched a girl over the course of about two years starting when she was 10 years old, often under the guise of pulling her onto his lap and tickling her.

A sentencing hearing that began Thursday effectively turned into a trial on whether Veeken breached a condition of his bail while standing accused of the offence when, in summer 2014, he moved next door to a home where two young girls were living.

The girls' father testified that while the relationship between Veeken and the family had been "pretty solid, friendly, neighbourly," they never knew his last name until, about 1 1/2 years after he moved in, Veeken invited the parents to his home for dinner in December 2015.

When he turned on his computer to show them pictures of a cabin his family had worked on, Veeken's last name appeared on the screen prompting a passing joke that the neighbours finally knew his last name.

The father said his suspicions were raised only after Veeken commented about his family and "how we wouldn't like him or we wouldn't like them."

Concerned that it seemed to be an unusual comment, the father searched for Veeken's name on the internet and found a story from the Citizen about the first time he was convicted. From there, the father went to the RCMP to clarify whether Veeken was that same person and the girls were subsequently told to stay away from him.

Veeken, in turn, soon moved away.

While testifying on his own behalf, Veeken had maintained that while he never told the parents he was on bail and facing charges, he had made it clear during a visit about a year after he had moved in that he was facing "false allegations" and so did not want to be near children.

However, that contention did not fly with Bernard, who agreed with Crown counsel that Veeken had violated a condition of his bail to not be in the company of a minor except when in the "presence of an adult third party with knowledge of the condition."

From there, prosecutor Marie Louise Ahrens argued Veeken's behaviour fit a pattern similar to that which had led to the conviction for sexual interference, saying he had begun a new cycle of befriending, grooming and then abusing a young girl.

Veeken couldn't help himself because he's a pedophile, and the only thing that stopped him was "he got found out," Ahrens submitted.

The hearing continues Friday at the Prince George courthouse.