More court trauma for teen

A TEENAGE boy might have to describe to a courtroom of strangers for a second time the way his stepfather allegedly sodomised him repeatedly.

The boy was aged 12 to 17 when he alleges his stepfather repeatedly forced him to have anal sex with him at their Ipswich home.

His stepfather was convicted of maintaining a relationship with the child and three counts of rape after a trial at Ipswich District Court.

But the accused man had argued in the Court of Appeal that the trial judge had erred in admitting evidence the boy's behaviour had changed as evidence of distress and directing the jury that it supported the boy's evidence.

Chief Justice Paul de Jersey, unanimously with two other Court of Appeal justices, overturned the convictions and granted a new trial.

"There was an amplitude of evidence that (the teen) was a troubled and lonely boy; the jury could quite well have concluded he was more dependent on (his stepfather's) affections than he was prepared to admit, without doubting the authenticity of his account of (his stepfather's) sexual dealings with him," he said.

But he said the question of whether the boy's change in behaviour should have been admitted was the court's paramount concern.

The boy told the court he "started losing the plot real easy, arguing all the time" after the alleged abuse began.

His mother and sister also gave evidence he became increasingly withdrawn, angry and aggressive but noted he would get bullied at school.

Justice de Jersey said there was a real risk a miscarriage of justice had occurred because there was not clarity about when the behaviour changed or when the abuse occurred.

"The relationship between (the boy's) behaviour and the offending is correctly described as tenuous or remote," he said.

"The evidence should not have been left to the jury as capable of corroborating (the boy's account)."



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