Warwick predator jailed for abusing girl
A PROMINENT Warwick identity found guilty of repeatedly molesting an underage girl will spend just four months behind bars.
The 73-year-old man, who is not named to protect the identity of his victim, had pleaded not guilty to charges of maintaining a sexual relationship with a girl under 16 and indecent treatment of a child under 16 in his care.
The three-day trial before Toowoomba District Court heard the victim girl had treated the man as a grandfather figure.
The families lived nearby on properties outside Warwick and from age 11 the girl had gone to his property to ride his horses.
However, he had started to touch her inappropriately when they were alone exercising horses or later when she accompanied him to events where they had stayed overnight.
The now 18-year-old woman told the court the man would put his hand down her shirt touching her breasts and rub his hand over the outside of her jeans near her pubic area.
She said the incidents had occurred virtually every time they were alone but she had been afraid to tell anyone.
"I was scared if I said anything no one would believe me because it was a child against an adult," she told the court.
It was only during an argument with her parents when she was 14 that she blurted out what the man had been doing to her.
"Mum wanted me to go to the police but I wasn't ready to," she said.
She eventually went to police in January 2014.
The jury retired to consider a verdict at 11.25am then returned to court to watch the victim's recorded interviews before returning at 5.10pm with verdicts of guilty on both charges.
Crown prosecutor Shontelle Petrie said the girl had been aged between 11 and 13 or 14 at the time while the man was aged 67 to 69.
While he had no previous criminal history at all, his offending was a significant breach of trust, she submitted.
Ms Petrie said the woman's victim impact statement was "quite moving" in that she spoke of the impact on her life the man's offending had had on her.
However, she had tried to move on and was now at university studying forensic science and criminology.
"Her dream is to get into the police force or federal police force to give back and help other victims of crime," Ms Petrie said.
Judge David Searles said he accepted the man was of otherwise good character and had contributed greatly to his community, and that his reputation would be ruined, but his offending was serious.
"Our community abhors and denounces the abuse of our children," he said.
Acknowledging that at 73 prison time would be more difficult for him than for younger offenders, Judge Searles sentenced the man to 18 months in jail.
Judge Searles further ordered the sentence be suspended after the man had served four months in jail.