Girl abused dur­ing overnight stay

Taranaki Daily News - - News - DEENA COSTER

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.

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