Bond for groping young girl

A FARMHAND who kissed and then groped the breasts of a 12-year-old girl will receive counselling after pleading guilty in the Lismore Local Court to indecentlyassaulting the child.

The Northern Rivers man, 49, was convicted of the offence and placed on a two-year good behaviour bond. He was also ordered to be supervised by Probation Services and attend counselling as required.

The assault took place on November 15 last year when the girl was helping the man with horse mustering at his parent’s property.

In evidence before Magistrate Robyn Denes, it had been a hot day and when the farmhand and girl went to a house on the property to get a drink of water the man started kissing the girl on the mouth and neck. He then touched her breasts, but kept his hands on the outside of her clothing.

The distressed girl told police she pushed him away before using her mobile phone to contact a friend who came and took her from the rural property.

The next day the girl received two text messages from the farmhand stating: “I’m sorry I made your neck so red. Your skin’s so soft.”

According to police documents, the second text read: “Sorry for touching you and everything. I’m going to leave you alone now.”

The Ballina Police Joint Investigation Response Team (JIRT) investigated the incident following a notification that a child might be at risk of harm. The girl was then interviewed by police and DoCS.

When the farmhand was interviewed by police he at first denied touching the girl’s breasts, but later told the investigators he ‘feels guilty’ about the matter and ‘now remembers touching her on the breasts and kissing her’.

Defence lawyer Peter Walsh said although his client had a lengthy police record in Queensland, there was no similar offence.

He said the offence was at the lower end of criminality and warranted a good behaviour bond.

Ms Denes said such assaults on children must be viewed seriously, but she accepted it had been a one-off offence and appeared out of character.

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