Sex charges sentencing postponed

SENTENCING of a middle-aged man on under-age sex charges was postponed yesterday, to allow the judge to see reports about the health of his wife.

Lismore District Court Judge James Black said the reports could be relevant to the sentence he imposed on the Byron Bay man.

The man, who was in his late 30s at the time of the offences, cannot be named in order to protect the identity of his victim.

He was found guilty in March of having sex with his sister-in-law when she was a 15-year-old schoolgirl. The Lismore District Court jury took three hours to decide its verdict following a nine-day trial.

He had pleaded not guilty to charges that included seven counts of indecent assault and five counts of having sexual intercourse with a girl aged between 10 and 16 while she was under his authority.

One charge of sexual intercourse was withdrawn and the man was found guilty of three of the remaining 11 charges – one count of indecent assault on December 27, 1998, and two of having sexual intercourse with a girl aged between 10 and 16.

It did not find proven the aspect that she had been ‘under his authority’ at the time.

The court last week heard a Victim Impact Statement that was read out by a counsellor from the Richmond Sexual Assault Service.

The report said the young woman had first disclosed the sexual abuse to her GP in October 1999.

She was referred to Byron Bay detectives in 2002 when she decided she wanted to proceed with legal action.

The girl had been quiet and shy before the abuse and was even more so afterwards, the statement said.

She had suffered a number of impacts from the offences, including ongoing body image issues such as bulimia, as well as depression and anxiety.

She was also still struggling with sleeping difficulties, nightmares, flashbacks and had experienced panic attacks. She quickly became angry and frustrated and had relationship difficulties.

The symptoms were still present, many years after the abuse, the court was told.

The young woman had accused the man of committing the offences against her when she was aged 14 and 15.

The trial heard how the man’s acknowledged later relationship with the girl from the age of 16 until she was 19 had caused a lot of trauma for the families and the break-up of his marriage to the girl’s older sister.

The man had remarried.

The victim’s statement said she had hoped her family would have stopped blaming her by now but this was unchanged.

The offender’s elderly father told the court yesterday about the fears he held for his son’s mental and physical health as a result of time spent in prison both in Australia and overseas.

The offender also told of how his business had failed and how the bank had seized a house he was building for his new family.

His wife was in poor health, he said, and he was her sole financial support.

The man is due in court on August 13 for sentencing.

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