22 November 2022

South Coast man jailed for 15 years for sexually abusing young daughter and stepdaughter

| Claire Fenwicke
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Court building

The Bega man was sentenced at Sydney’s Downing Centre District Court for his crimes. Photo: Facebook, Downing Centre Court.

CONTENT WARNING: This article details sexual abuse against children which some readers may find distressing

A Bega man will spend at least 11 years behind bars after being sentenced for repeatedly sexually abusing his daughter and stepdaughter.

The man in his late 30s, who cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty to six charges mainly relating to offending against his daughter when they were living in Eden and Bega.

However, it was his stepdaughter who he began abusing first.

During his sentencing remarks in Sydney’s Downing Centre District Court, Judge James Bennett said the man began a relationship with his stepdaughter’s mother in 2011 when they were living in Bega.

In 2013, when the girl was seven years old, she was alone in her bedroom with the door open while the offender was in the lounge room.

He pulled down his pants and began to masturbate as he stared at her on the bed. Judge Bennett said he would do this “frequently” and would walk into her room with “his penis exposed out the side of his shorts”.

“The victim disclosed this to her mother but was not believed,” he said.

“She did not feel safe and ran away to live with her grandparents, where she has remained.

“She reported the matter to police on 5 May, 2021.”

The man was charged with commit an act of indecency against a person under the age of 10 in regards to this offending.

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The five other offences stem from abuse of his daughter when she was younger than 10 years of age.

“Every day after school he masturbated in front of her and told her not to tell anyone,” Judge Bennett said. “It ceased when she made her disclosure.”

His crimes were first revealed when the girl was watching television with her aunt sometime in late 2020 when a commercial about menstruation appeared.

“[This] led to a conversation in which the aunt said to [the victim] it was inappropriate for anyone to touch her genitalia, to which [the girl] responded that her father was therefore inappropriate,” Judge Bennett said.

The offender was arrested for the crimes against his daughter on 8 January, 2021.

“He was interviewed and denied the allegations, asserting that the victim had made up stories, jealous of the resumption of the relationship between the offender and her mother,” Judge Bennett said.

For crimes against his daughter, the man was ultimately charged with intentionally carry out a sexual act towards a child, intentionally procure a child for unlawful sexual activity, intentionally carry out sexual acts towards a child and two counts of sexual intercourse with a child under the age of 10.

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While the man wrote a letter expressing his “deep shame, embarrassment and sorrow for his misconduct”, Judge Bennett said a sentence assessment report suggested his attitude appeared to be “self-serving”.

“[This is because] he alleged disgust but blamed alcohol for his actions,” he said.

“He acknowledged the harm he caused but did not seek assistance to manage his alcohol and drugs to which he attributes this behaviour.

“According to the psychiatrist who assessed him, he said he had regretted his actions and wanted to take full responsibility but seemed to have limited insight into the impact of the offending and attributed his behaviour to substance abuse.”

Judge Bennett said while drug and alcohol addiction probably contributed to the crimes to “some extent”, he wasn’t convinced it was fully to blame.

“The assertion by the offender that his poor judgement was related to intoxication does not explain the prolonged timeline and repetition of crimes,” he said.

A victim impact statement by his daughter detailed how she was teased by children at school about what was happening to her, and how he kept her from spending time with her mother and extended family in case she told them what he was doing.

“She was shown pornography and learned aspects of sex that a child should not know,” Judge Bennett said.

“She spoke of her fear from what the offender did to her, and her heart is crushed because he ought to have been there to protect her, but left her to protect herself from him.”

Judge Bennett imposed a total sentence of 15 years’ prison, with a non-parole period of 11 years.

Given time served, he will be eligible for parole on 7 January, 2032.

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