Newspaper article Gympie Times, The Qld.

'Would I Get a Smack If I Told the Truth?'

Newspaper article Gympie Times, The Qld.

'Would I Get a Smack If I Told the Truth?'

Article excerpt

A FOUR-YEAR-OLD girl's reluctant confession to her mother has unravelled a horrific tale of sexual abuse in the Mary Valley that may have spanned years.

A Gympie District Court jury deliberated for less than an hour on Tuesday afternoon before finding a 70-year-old Gympie region man guilty of "maintaining an unlawful sexual relationship with a child". He was sentenced to four-and-a-half years jail.

The greying, dishevelled man, who cannot be named because it might inadvertently identify his young victim, had been on bail and sat in the prisoner's dock as the verdict was read out.

The girl's mother, appearing in the witness box on Tuesday, told the court her four-year-old was in the bath when she asked her if the man had touched her inappropriately, to which the girl said he hadn't.

But after she finished her bath, the girl asked, "Would I get a smack if I told the truth?"

She then told her mother the man had touched her.

Later, in a police interview, the daughter spoke of other sexual acts he had committed on her.

The girl was only four and five years old when police interviewed her, and was unable to give details on when the abuse happened or how long it had gone on for, but told police it happened "all the time" and "a million times".

Crown prosecutor Jennifer O'Brien said the girl described things a four-year-old would only know through experiencing the abuse.

"There is too much detail, too much conviction in (the girl's) account to ignore," she said.

The man had unsupervised access to the girl for two to three hours a week during the time the offences occurred.

With no other first-hand witnesses, the jury ultimately had to decide whether it believed the allegations that the man had performed sexual acts on the child.

Defence lawyer Don MacKenzie told the court it was his client's word against the child's, and with the lack of detail it was impossible to mount a strong defence with alibis. …

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