A 15-YEAR-OLD former Bundaberg girl descended into a life of depression, anxiety and self-harm after she was raped by her stepfather
A 15-YEAR-OLD former Bundaberg girl descended into a life of depression, anxiety and self-harm after she was raped by her stepfather Contributed

4YRS PRISON: Man faces deportation after raping stepdaughter

A 15-YEAR-OLD former Bundaberg girl descended into a life of depression, anxiety and self-harm after she was raped by her stepfather.

Today the girl's abuser, a 41-year-old Bundaberg man, was jailed for four years after a Bundaberg District Court jury found him guilty.

The man, originally from New Zealand, faced a two-day trial after claims he digitally raped his stepdaughter, then aged 11, on a dirt track off Childers Rd between 2014 and 2017.

He also faced charges of indecent treatment of a child under 16, after he groped and kissed the girl's breasts on three occasions.

On Tuesday the man, who cannot be named, pleaded not guilty to all four charges, which Judge Leanne Clare yesterday said demonstrated his complete lack of remorse.

"You were the father figure in her life and you preyed on her vulnerability and her innocence," Judge Clare said during sentencing.

She said it was the first two offences in time, which happened only a short time after the girl's biological father left, that were the worst out of the list of "abhorrent" acts.

"You took her to a lonely and isolated place, away from any chance of help or escape," Judge Clare said.

In a police interview recorded in 2018, the girl told Senior Constable Patricia Applebee that, while she was in Year 5 or 6, her stepdad had told her to sit in the front seat on a car trip to to his ex-partner's house.

During the drive, the man put his left hand down his stepdaughter's shirt and squeezed her breast for a short moment.

While no words were exchanged, 20 minutes later the man pulled over on a dirt track off Childers Rd.

The girl said there was no one in sight and that the road was lined with trees.

It was there the man digitally raped her with one hand, while holding a cigarette with the other.

Defence barrister John McInnes said his client had previously been a person of good character.

He said his client did "from time to time have an issue with drug use ... (but) it's not a consuming one".

In the 2018 police interview, the girl said she was frightened during the rape, didn't know if it was normal and while it had not been painful, it was uncomfortable.

"You did not need to overcome anything other than a small girl's squirm ... she was frozen," Judge Clare said.

After raping her, the man drove his stepdaughter to his ex's house to pick up his two biological children.

The girl said she distinctly remembered seeing him wash his hands once they'd arrived at the house.

He also later told his stepdaughter he'd already told her mother what had happened.

"That put into her head questions about the very person who could have immediately saved her from further harm," Judge Clare said.

"You succeeded in alienating her from her mother."

The man was also found guilty of kissing his stepdaughter's breasts while she lay in her bunk bed at home, while her siblings lay awake below her, and him touching her breast in her backyard.

"It was not an isolated offence ... you exploited your position as a father figure," Judge Clare said.

The man had moved to Australia when he was a teenager in the 1990s. Since then he has worked consistently, and was currently employed in the mines.

Because he is not a citizen, his convictions put him at risk of deportation following his release in two years.

She described the man's actions as a gross betrayal of trust and said the harm he had caused was incalculable.

"... (She) was almost broken by bearing the weight of this on her own," Judge Clare said.

The court heard the girl, now 15, suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression.

In the past she has been prescribed sleeping tablets and has suffered from an eating disorder and self harm.

"She is haunted by the rape and by your smiling face ... she will probably carry these scars for the rest of her life," Judge Clare said.

When asked if he wished to speak to the court before sentencing, the man said nothing.

Judge Clare jailed him for four years. He will be eligible for parole after serving two, with the remainder of his sentence to be suspended for five years.

If you or someone you know needs help, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800



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