Girl abused during overnight stay
A Taranaki father’s sexual abuse of his daughter left her struggling with life and resorting to self harm, a court has heard.
The man, who cannot be named in order to protect the victim’s identity, was sentenced in the New Plymouth District Court after previously pleading guilty to a charge of sexual conduct with a child under 12.
He pleaded guilty on the eve of his district court trial last December, where he had faced a total of four sex abuse charges. The remaining three were discharged at yesterday’s court hearing after the prosecution offered no evidence. Judge Garry Barkle said the offence related to a one-off incident between July 2011 and July 2012 when the victim, who was nine at the time, stayed overnight at her father’s home. After watching a movie, they went to sleep on a double bed.
She woke up to find her father’s hand underneath the elastic band of her underwear, resting on her genitals. He pulled his hand away and the girl began to cry.
The incident was disclosed by the girl in August 2015 after her mother talked about the possibility of getting back together with her father. Given what had happened to her, the victim was unhappy about this. Once she told her mother about what had happened, police were informed.
The victim provided a handwritten statement to Judge Barkle about what had happened and said she had missed school, suffered mood swings and had become quite angry. Her relationship with her mother had suffered and she had begun to self harm, Judge Barkle said.
Crown prosecutor Stephanie Simpkin sought a jail term of two years for the offending, which she said was aggravated by the extent of harm caused to the victim along with the breach of trust involved.
She also wanted the defendant’s name added to the child sex offender’s registration.
Simpkin raised concerns about the man’s continued denial of the offending and his lack of remorse, which were both referenced in the pre-sentence report. In response, defence lawyer Kelly Marriner said her client had admitted from the outset that he had touched his daughter’s genitals.
‘‘The issue has been the intention,’’ she said. However, the man accepted how much the child had been impacted on by his actions.
Marriner said the offending was historical and there was no risk of further sexual offending. She also pointed to the man’s ‘‘horrific’’ upbringing, where he had disclosed being a victim of physical and sexual abuse at the hands of his step-father.
She argued home detention was appropriate and said the defendant had stuck to strict bail conditions for three months without incident and the electronically monitored anklet would ensure his whereabouts were tracked. Home detention was opposed by Simpkin.
Judge Barkle said although the offending only involved one incident of touching, it was skin on skin contact involving a young and vulnerable child.
‘‘The victim was your own daughter. There is no greater breach of trust,’’ he added.
After taking into account the man’s childhood experiences along with his guilty plea, a jail term of one year and five months was set by Judge Barkle. After much deliberation, this was then transferred into eight and a half months home detention. The judge ruled against adding the man’s name to the child sex offender’s register.