8 August 2022

Health issues delay sentencing for Bega's Neil Duncan over sexual abuse of three children

| Albert McKnight
Neil Duncan

Neil Duncan, a former Bega Valley man, was found guilty of several child sex crimes. Photo: Facebook.

Content warning: this story addresses childhood sexual abuse.

A man convicted of committing child sex offences against three young victims in Bega and the Snowy Mountains has had his sentencing delayed due to his upcoming cancer treatment.

In June 2022, a jury found former Bega Valley man Neil Duncan guilty of eight counts of intentionally sexually touching a child between the ages of 10 and 16 after a trial in the Queanbeyan District Court.

The crimes took place over February and November 2019, with six offences at a camp in the Kosciuszko National Park and two at a property in Bega.

Justice Robyn Tupman said none of the offences occurred in connection with pony club activities. Duncan used to have links to such clubs.

He was originally charged with offences against five victims, but was acquitted or had charges discharged on allegations relating to two of them.

Bail was continued after the verdicts, then an attempt to revoke the 67-year-old’s bail failed in the NSW Supreme Court due to his health issues last month.

Duncan, who has moved to live near Tamworth in the locality of Timbumburi, had been diagnosed with prostate cancer and needed further testing to confirm if he also had bowel cancer.

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He was scheduled to be sentenced in the NSW District Court on Friday (5 August), but on that day his lawyers applied for the sentencing to be adjourned to November due to his health issues, arguing he would not receive timely treatment in custody.

He has surgery for his prostate cancer booked for September and his barrister, Richard Pontello SC, argued the earlier the treatment for cancer, the greater the chance of success.

Mr Pontello also commented on media coverage of the case, saying while his client would answer for his crimes “he certainly won’t answer to a kangaroo court comprised of the media or anybody else”.

The Crown prosecutor said there was no evidence of Duncan’s prognosis, stage of cancer or treatment plan and argued he could receive treatment while in custody.

“There’s a lot of people in custody who do take treatment for cancer,” she said.

She also urged Judge Tupman to take into account the “anxiety” that would be caused to the victims by delaying the proceedings again.

“The victims are keen to have these proceedings resolved so they can move on,” the prosecutor said.

Judge Tupman, who noted the case had attracted a “degree of publicity”, said “he’s going to go into custody in due course”.

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But she said it would be in the interests of justice for Duncan to have his cancer treatment as soon as possible.

She accepted it was “highly unlikely” Duncan would be able to access the surgical treatment he needed in September or soon afterwards if he was in custody.

She said his health was likely to deteriorate if he went into custody because he wouldn’t have fast access to surgery.

Judge Tupman thought the victims would be “comforted” to know their abuser had been convicted by a jury and that a full-time jail sentence was inevitable.

She granted the adjournment, continued bail and listed the matter for sentencing on 24 October.

If this story has raised any concerns for you, 1800RESPECT, the national 24-hour sexual assault, family and domestic violence counselling line, can be contacted on 1800 737 732. Help and support are also available through The Canberra Rape Crisis Centre 02 6247 2525, The Domestic Violence Crisis Service ACT on 6280 0900, Lifeline on 13 11 14, the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467 or Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800. In an emergency call 000.

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