ACT News

Indigenous artist Dennis Nona found guilty of sex with 12-year-old girl

Indigenous artist Dennis Nona, who has failed to overturn his convictions or reduce his sentence for child sex offences
Indigenous artist Dennis Nona, who has failed to overturn his convictions or reduce his sentence for child sex offences Photo: Getty Images

Indigenous artist Dennis Nona has been found guilty of raping a 12-year-old girl while he was a student at the Australian National University.

But an ACT Supreme Court jury will continue to consider three other charges. 

Nona, 41, is also accused of having sex with the girl in February 1996 and two acts of indecency in the presence of two children.  

After two days of deliberation, the jury delivered their verdict before Chief Justice Helen Murrell on Thursday afternoon.

Chief Justice Murrell sent jurors home after the decision with directions to continue their deliberations on Friday morning.

Nona, from Badu Island, about 60km north of Thursday Island, was found guilty of having sex with the girl in April 1996.


In her closing submission, crown prosecutor Margaret Jones told the jury this was not a case of a young girl developing a crush on an older man, but "a sad case of the accused taking advantage of a vulnerable little girl".

The girl was found to be pregnant later that year. The girl's pregnancy was not discovered until police were called to the house for an unrelated matter and her pregnancy was terminated 22 weeks after conception.

Ms Jones said the girl was too scared to tell her mother about her pregnancy and that she was trying to protect a man she had an "abnormal attachment" to.

While in the witness box, Nona told the jury the girl confessed to once having had sex with him while he was passed out at her house after two days of binge drinking without food.

He said after waking, the girl approached him when they were alone and said: "I want to tell you something but you're not allowed to tell mum – I had sex with you last night."

Nona told the court his body turned cold and he wanted to leave the house immediately and asked her: "Why did you do that? You're going to get me into big trouble."

But Ms Jones said the jury should dismiss this confession as a lie, because it would have required a young girl to undress a grown man, have sex with him without his knowledge, and then sneak away.

In his closing submission, Nona's defence barrister Shane Gill said the girl had been sexualised from a young age and developed a crush on Nona, once saying that she loved him.

On Monday, Nona told the court from the witness stand the girl had tried to kiss him once in the lounge of her home but he had pushed her away when she got close.

"It felt like she had a crush on me," he said.

Nona told the court the girl would hug him and sometimes he felt she was hanging on too long.

The two alleged acts of indecency occurred when the two children were in the backyard of a property and Nona knocked on a bedroom window to get their attention and then held his exposed penis in his hand.

The complainant told the court Nona was allegedly "playing with his penis as if it were a joke" and was "looking right at us".

Nona denied ever doing so.