Lismore Court House.
Lismore Court House.

Father guilty on sex assaults

A FORMER senior Northern Rivers teacher has been sentenced to 13-and-a-half years’ jail after being found guilty last week of sexual assaults against his young daughter.

The man, aged in his 50s, had pleaded not guilty to all charges at his jury trial in Lismore District Court.

He was found guilty of all four offences: Three counts of aggravated sexual assault on a girl under the age of 16, and one count of aggravated indecency on a child under 16 who was under the authority of the offender.

Judge James Black ordered the man to serve at least 10 years non-parole for the offences he committed on his daughter when she was 11.

The girl (now a teenager) was tearful as she read her emotional victim impact statement

“Being sexually assaulted by my father has wrecked my life and affected all aspects of my life,” she said.

“I suffer post traumatic stress disorder. I’m stressed all the time and looking out for danger. I suffer panic attacks. It makes me feel I’m going crazy, and I’m anxious when I go out with my friends or family.”

She revealed incidents of self-harm, alcohol abuse, low self-esteem, her extreme anxiety and how bad thoughts (of the incidents) can be triggered by television shows, stories in newspapers and comments by friends. She is also taking medication for her anxieties.

“I want the sentence to reflect the seriousness of what he has done to me,” the girl said.

Before the judgement was handed down the man’s defence counsel, Anthony Smith, said his client still strongly maintained his innocence.

However, Judge Black said he was ‘absolutely satisfied’ the offences were mid-range in the level of seriousness.

“I take the view that penetration of a child’s vagina is a serious matter. The fact it is carried out by her father is a relative factor in assessing its overall gravity,” he said.

He found the emotional harm done was substantial and an ‘inevitable consequence’ of offences of such nature where a father abused his trust with a vulnerable and young victim.

Judge Black said he also had difficulty in finding the man would not reoffend because of his stated attitude that he had not offended, so the prospects of remorse or accepting responsibility for his actions could not be considered.

The judge said the man had no previous convictions and he also gave weight to the submission by defence barrister Mr Smith that his client ‘is doing it hard’ in the prison system where he would be regarded by other inmates as a child molester, and who would then be at risk (of harm).

He acknowledged the man had a distinguished career in education.

Judge Black said the offences had taken place in a short space of time separated by a month or so and he saw no need to accumulate the sentences. The accused will be eligible for release in December 2019.

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