Child molester guilty of five acts
A Canberra man who molested his stepdaughter in the 1990s has been jailed full-time for nine months and will spend his weekends behind bars for another nine months.
In July an ACT Supreme Court jury found the 46-year-old, who cannot be named, guilty of committing five acts of indecency on the girl.
He was acquitted on a charge of having sexual intercourse with the girl, and the trial judge directed the jurors to return a not guilty verdict on another count of attempting to have sexual intercourse with the child.
This morning acting Justice John Nield sentenced the offender to three years, with nine months to be served behind bars full-time.
Another nine months will be spent in periodic detention with the remainder suspended on entering into a good-behaviour bond.
The judge took a more than 10 year delay between the offences and the man’s arrest into account in his favour, as well as the man’s positive steps to live a drug and alcohol free life.
But he described the crimes as a “gross breach of the trust that his wife reposed in him, and the complainant reposed in him”.
“It was his duty to protect her from sexual predators, not to be the sexual predator of her,” acting Justice Nield.
The molestation occurred between 1995 and 1999, when the victim was aged between eight and 12.
The allegations first came to light in 1999 when the girl went to police.
Detectives investigated the case and interviewed the stepfather, who denied the allegations, but no charges were laid because the victim withdrew her complaint.
Then, last year, the woman decided she wanted to reopen the case.
This time her mother backed up her daughter's claims, giving a statement and testifying in court about walking in on the pair during apparent indecent acts.
Twelve years earlier, the mother had sat in on her then-husband's police interview - she told the court it was only after they split she decided to mend bridges with her daughter and come forward.
Others also gave evidence corroborating parts of the young woman's account.
In 1999, she described some incidents to two close friends, although she told the jury she kept other allegations of abuse to herself.
One of her mother's friends said she recalled the pair emerging from the victim's room once, with the victim appearing upset and refusing to make eye contact.
The Crown argued the incidents took place against a backdrop of systemic sexual abuse, with the victim complaining of weekly abuse.
But the defence pointed to differences in the versions given by the victim, inconsistencies between various witnesses and the ''marks of fiction'' on her story.
The stepfather had maintained his innocence in police interviews, first in 1999 and again last year when the allegations were revisited.
The court heard the offender had a previous criminal history involving crimes of burglary, car theft and driving offences.
He had spent time in prison before, but had never previously been charged with a sexual offence.
The offender will be eligible for release from full-time custody in April next year, taking into account time served.