Girl dragged 7-year-old friend from rapist's clutches

TWO girls, aged seven and nine, took a sunset walk across a Gympie region property to bottle-feed a lamb.

The girls were gone for ten minutes. In that time, the 7-year-old girl was attacked and raped.

It was January 10, this year, on a property belonging to the 7-year-old girl's father.

Her rapist, aged 24 at the time, worked for the father and lived in a caravan on the property.

He had been drinking vodka and rum before the girls walked past his caravan.

The encounter began innocently; he chased them and tickled them before the 9-year-old girl managed to escape.

But the court heard the man, who had never been convicted of a crime, then held the 7-year-old girl between his legs and raped her.

The attack only stopped when the girl's friend ran back, grabbed her legs and pulled her away from the man.

They ran back to the family home, where the girl told her mother what happened.

The two girls' fathers immediately went to confront the man, but he had already fled into the surrounding bushland, leaving his wallet and phone in his haste.

He later called triple-0 and identified himself but said he "needed to get a few things sorted out".

Police found him the following morning, and took him to Gympie Hospital for injuries sustained has he ran from the property.

The man, who had been released on bail and cannot be named to protect the victim's identity, pleaded guilty in Gympie District Court on Wednesday to rape.

He sat in the prisoner's dock, dressed in dark clothes as Crown prosecutor Alex Stark told the court his actions left the girl and her family emotionally scarred.

A victim impact statement written by the girl's mother said the girl had nightmares in the wake of the attack.

Defence barrister Harry Fong argued although the rape used force, it was "momentary".

Judge Gary Long pointed out the friend's bravery was the reason the man stopped.

"I accept it wasn't prolonged, but only because of the actions of a 9-year-old," he said.

But Mr Fong said the man then realised what he had done, and allowed the girls to escape.

The defendant declined to say anything when asked if he wished to address the court.

His father watched the proceedings from the gallery.

Judge Long noted the man's mother had also supported him at previous court appearances but found the sentencing "too confrontational".

Mr Fong told the court the defendant's father was shocked at his son's actions.

Judge Long, in his sentencing remarks, said the man's drunken state was not a mitigating factor, and noted he was "not so drunk to not realise he'd done wrong".

"There is nothing by way of any explanation for this obviously abhorrent conduct," he said, comparing the attack to positive character references that presented "a picture of surprise".

He sentenced the man to five years in prison, but set the parole date 20 months into the sentence at July 1, 2018.

The defendant embraced his father before he was led, handcuffed, from the courtroom.

Gympie Times

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