‘Vigilante’ who tortured elderly man he met on Grindr to walk free after judge calls him ‘remarkable’
A 21-year-old who tortured an elderly man he lured using Grindr will be released from prison after he was commended by an Australian judge as a “remarkable man”.
Charlie Michael Edward Caire will be released from prison on a suspended sentence after pleading guilty to a slew of offences, including aggravated assault, aggravated blackmail and false imprisonment. He was described by ABC as throwing his hands up in the air with relief at the news.
An electric drill, a taser, a gaslighter, a pair of secateurs and a knife were among the “horrifying array of weaponry” that Caire used to torture his blindfolded victim in February 2020, prosecutors described.
However, his defence sought to paint the offender as a troubled man who overcame adversity – the pitfalls of his childhood, losing a job, among other things. It was a profile that the judge came to agree with.
Calling him “remarkable”, judge Liesl Chapman said: “You have shown courage, strength and resilience during a childhood which no child should have to endure.”
The District Court of South Australia heard how Caire created a fake profile on hook-up app Grindr to lure his victim as part of a plot to carry out “vigilante justice”.
At the time, Caire believed that the victim, in his 70s, was guilty of assaulting his friend. Wanting to “teach him a lesson” – and in the throes of a methamphetamine-fuelled “drug frenzy” – he carried out the “terrifying” attack.
“The violence caused the victim to bleed on the mattress and floor,” Chapman said.
“The victim has provided a victim impact statement where he describes experiencing the most sustained and intense period of physical pain and fear of those hours of imprisonment.
“He was scared he was going to die.”
“It was a brutal attack on the victim, who was particularly vulnerable because of his age,” she added.
“He was harmed physically and psychologically because of your actions.
“To put it briefly, he was terrified.”
He used an electric drill and a taser on the man, held a gaslighter to his head, put his fingers in secateurs and sliced his arm with a knife.
Caire also injected the victim with a needle that he claimed contained AIDS before blackmailing him of $5,000 or else “there’d be consequences”, the court heard.
Man who tortured victim for hours commended for his ‘courage’ by judge
Despite all this, the judge gave Caire a sentence of five years and six months in prison with a non-parole period of two years and 10 months. This was backdated to February 2020, when he was taken into custody, with the rest of the sentence suspended.
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The judge said she believes Caire to be “truly remorseful” for the crime, telling him: “I’m sure you didn’t expect that outcome.”
She commended Caire for “keeping [his] head above water” and for “making positive contributions to the community” until the death of his father, the loss of his job in sales and the end of a four-year-long relationship rattled him deeply.
“Everything just broke and you started to spiral downwards,” she explained.
“You spent thousands of dollars from your hard-earned savings on [methamphetamine].
“You were using on a daily basis […] at the time of the offending, you had not slept for about six weeks and had barely eaten.”
Caire will be released from Mount Gambier Prison on Wednesday (21 April) to travel to Adelaide District court and sign a three-year good behaviour bond.