News

Intellectually disabled man who raped child avoids jail

A NORTHERN Rivers man who raped an 11-year-old boy with cerebral palsy dodged jail due to his own intellectual disability.

The 33-year old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was sentenced to a two year suspended sentence and two year good behaviour bond before Judge R. Ellis in Lismore District Court on Friday.

The man was charged with aggravated sexual intercourse with a child, indecent assault and inciting an act of indecency in a person under 16 years for incidents occurring between December 20, 2012 and June 3, 2013 near the Queensland border.

Befriended by the boy's family, the 33-year-old committed the crimes at the family's home and at his own home, where he lived with his parents, before the boy spoke out to his mother.

A Victim Impact Statement delivered by the boy via court video detailed the impact of the sexual abuse.

"I didn't know what he did to me was sexual assault. I'm crying. I feel despair and I'm confused and finding it hard to trust anyone," he said.

"I never expected him to do this. He hurt me and my family. I feel scared and worried all the time.

"I want the judge to know (name withheld) is a bad man."

Following submissions by the prosecutor and defence lawyer, Judge Ellis said balancing the need for punishment and rehabilitation was difficult, because of disabilities present in both the victim and offender.

He noted harsh punishment would be lost on the man - whose cognitive functioning ranges in the lowest 1% of society, according to psychological and neurological reports.

The man's parents supported him throughout the sentencing, as they had during his bail.

He cried during much of his time in court and looked distraught throughout the sentencing hearing.

Judge Ellis drew from several preceding Australian court cases when making his decision, noting the man, who had no prior criminal convictions, would likely benefit from rehabilitation.

He added that he would surely be victimised in a traditional jail setting due to his low level intellectual functioning and this could increase chances of reoffending when released.

The judge said the man's understanding of the age of consent was flawed, but he did recognise in some sense that his actions were wrong.

It was stated if the man was not suffering from a disability he would have faced about five years jail.

Topics:  child rape, rape



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