News

Man jailed for six years for historical sexual assaults

By Ashlea Witoslawski

An elderly man has been jailed for six years for sexual assault and incest charges over offending that started more than 50 years ago and impacted the victim’s entire life, a court has heard.

The 84-year-old, who The News is not naming because of legal reasons, was sentenced at the County Court in Shepparton yesterday, after pleading guilty to three charges of indecent assault and one charge of incest from assaults against his stepdaughter between 1966 and 1971 in their family home in a northern Victorian town.

The court heard the victim, who was aged between 12 and 16 during the time of the offences, reported the incidents to police in November, 2017, at the age of 64.

Judge Bill Stuart stressed the severity of the incest charge and highlighted the man’s moral culpability, attacking the young girl for an extended period of time.

‘‘You at the time (were) a man in your 30s, she was a young girl,’’ Judge Stuart said.

‘‘It had everything to do with your sexual gratification.’’

The court heard the offending started after the man’s wife, the victim’s mother, started working at night to make extra money for the family.

At the age of 18, the victim proposed to her boyfriend of two years as a way to escape the family home.

After the woman reported the abuse in 2017, she was given a digital voice recorder which she used to phone the man on two occasions.

The man apologised but did not admit to certain accusations.

‘‘This is a scenario that frequently comes before this court,’’ Judge Stuart said.

‘‘Years, sometimes decades, here almost 50 years, after the last event, she came forward to tell of horror you subjected her to.’’

The man was arrested on March 18 last year and taken in for questioning where he said the kind of behaviour was prevalent during the 60s and 70s and ‘‘not as obnoxious as it is now’’.

‘‘It is a sad thing to say it is as prevalent now as it was in the 60s and 70s, if not before,’’ Judge Stuart said.

During the police interview the accused admitted to ‘‘Peeping Tom’’-like behaviour, stating ‘‘these days it’s their word against the males’’.

‘‘You had endeavoured to excuse yourself and you denied emphatically that you engaged in any penetrative act with her at all,’’ Judge Stuart said.

‘‘You even went so far to say you weren’t aware of the gravity of your offending.

‘‘You were attempting to minimise what you had done to her.’’

Judge Stuart considered a number of mitigating factors before crafting his sentence, including the man’s unblemished record, early guilty plea and numerous contributions to his local community.

The man’s age and the fact he is also the primary care giver for his wife was also considered.

‘‘You are then a man of advanced years coming to the twilight of your life,’’ Judge Stuart said.

Judge Stuart also said deterring others was a principal sentencing factor.

‘‘It must be made plain that those who engage in this ... will receive stern punishment,’’ he said.

The man was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment with a non-parole period of three years.

Judge Stuart said the sentence would have been 8 years with a non-parole period of five years if not for the early guilty plea.

The man will also be subject to reporting obligations to the sex offenders registry for the remainder of his life.

Editor’s note:The News has chosen not to name the offender due to legal considerations, including the potential risk of identifying the victim of the sexual assaults.

●GVCASA provides free and confidential counselling, information, advocacy and support to all people who have been affected by sexual assault.

The services are provided throughout Greater Shepparton, Moira, Mitchell, Murrindindi and Strathbogie shires.

People can phone 1800 112 343 for more information.

If people want to report sexual abuse anonymously; they can visit sara.org.au