Child sexual abuse is an unfortunately common occurrence within Australian families. It's a grave breach of trust and takes advantage of vulnerable children who love the person who betrays them. These were the exact circumstances in a case brought before the NSW District Court where a stepfather sought leave to appeal on his sexual assault sentences.
Background of the case
The offences focused on the applicant's stepdaughters, 'A' and 'B'. Victim A was born in 1997 and B in 2002.
The first count of abuse took place sometime between 2004 and 2006 when 'A' was seven or eight years old. The applicant committed two acts of indecency on the young girl and was sentenced as per the Form 1 procedure. This is a process whereby a defendant can plead guilty to one principal charge and have additional charges placed on a 'Form 1'. This gives other offences relating to the principal one a lower salience in the sentencing process. However, a court will still factor in all charges in the decision-making process.
There were two more counts in relation to victim 'A' which occurred up until November 2008.
The first of three counts relating to victim 'B' took place between 2008 and 2011. It was count 5 where the defendant first had non consensual sexual intercourse with the young girl.
However, it's the sentencing attached to count 6 that led the applicant to seek leave for appeal. The principal offence for count 6 related to another act of non-consensual sexual intercourse with victim 'B'. The Form 1 offence attached to count 6 relates to the defendant digitally penetrating the victim just before intercourse.
The defendant was sentenced to a total of 19 years and seven months imprisonment.
The applicant thought the primary judge had been excessive in her sentencing when comparing both counts five and six. The judge had given the same sentence for both counts, despite there being another act to consider as part of count 6's Form 1. However, this was soon quashed. The court concluded that although count 5 had lesser acts attached, the defendant still abused his power and trust, and took advantage of the child when she was vulnerable. As a result, the appeal was dismissed.
Sexual assault is one of the most sensitive and difficult topics to talk about. Thankfully, here at Gerard Malouf & Partners, we have a specialised team of sexual abuse lawyers who can work with victims to ensure justice is served. Get in touch today if you'd like to find out how we can help you.