Middle-aged pensioner preys on 7yo girl

A VICTORIAN man, pensioned off with spinal pain, has been jailed over multiple indecent assaults of a seven-year-old girl for more than a year.

The man, who was in his mid-40s at the time of offending, had at times preyed on his then-partner’s daughter in her bed, while babysitting her either at his home or the partner’s home.

The accused cannot be legally identified, to preserve the victim’s anonymity.

He was found guilty by a Victorian jury on eight counts of indecent assault and three charges of sexual penetration with a child under 16.

In sentencing on 6 May, a judge noted the serious and “appalling” behaviour by the one-time mechanic, aggravated by months of repeated assaults while the girl was supposedly in his care.

One incident was witnessed by the girl’s younger brother.

“Several times you told the victim this was your secret,” the judge told the man.

“If she told anyone, she’d get into trouble.”

The judge said such “serious betrayal of trust” often psychologically damaged the victims. Their rehabilitation was often far more difficult than that of the perpetrators.

“You may have good prospects of rehabilitiation but the prospects of (your victim’s) rehabilitation are unknown.

“She may never be fully rehabilitated by what happened at your hands.”

According to a psychiatrist’s recent report, the accused maintained his innocence. He was rated a low-to-moderate risk of re-offending, the judge said.

The court had been told the man had suffered no sexual abuse as a child. He’d been raised in a happy family and well educated.

The accused had worked many years until becoming he was serious injured in 2006. The resultant narrowing of the spaces within his spine required strong and daily morphine relief.

As the man stood in the dock with the aid of a walking stick, he was told by the judge the affliction would make his first time in jail more onerous.

But it was “not an overwhelming factor by any means”, the judge said.

A similarly “minor” matter in the circumstances was the man’s mental vulnerability.

After being interviewed by police in 2015, the man – now in his late 40s – suffered a mental breakdown, the court had been told.

In his bouts of severe depression and anxiety, he became non-communicative, was admitted to hospital and at times needed full care from family and friends.

The judge said no matter how repulsive the offences, the sentence could not be charged by emotional reaction.

The principles of proportionality and totality must apply across the multiple offences. In other words, the judge was to avoid a “crushing” sentence.

His defence barrister had told the court the man had been a decent, contributing member of the community with little-to-no criminal history. In the past, he had supported his own children, the court heard.

The man was jailed for a maximum five-and-a-half years, with a non-parole period of three years. His 95 days in pre-sentence detention would be counted as time served.

He was registered for life as a serious sex offender.