BEHIND BARS: The Southern Downs man will spend up to five years in jail for his offences. Picture: kaspiic
BEHIND BARS: The Southern Downs man will spend up to five years in jail for his offences. Picture: kaspiic

Man jailed over decade of sexual abuse of niece, 3

A SOUTHERN Downs man has been jailed for sexually assaulting his stepsister's young daughter for almost a decade.

The 28-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, sexually assaulted the girl an unknown number of times between 2006 and 2008.

She was just three when the abuse began.

The Warwick District Court heard the man, who was aged between 14 and 16 at the time of this offending, threatened to kill the girl if she told anyone about the abuse.

Crown prosecutor Stephen Muir told the court the man continued to "sexually exploit" his niece from October 2010 to January 2016, this time aged 18 to 23.

Mr Muir said the 28-year-old visited the girl an estimated 40 times across this five-year period, and had some kind of sexual contact with her most days.

"By the age of eight, the complainant was already so accustomed to the offending … that she ceased to feel embarrassed by it."

The abuse was uncovered after the girl's mother became suspicious something was going on and confronted her stepbrother.

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Defence barrister David Jones said his client's prolonged offending began as a teenager and was left "unchecked" into adulthood.

Mr Jones added the 28-year-old was being treated by his GP for depression, anxiety, and PTSD.

The man's fiancee, to whom he has an 18-month-old son, watched the proceedings from the back of the courtroom, along with his mother and several other family members.

Judge Dennis Lynch denounced the man's "very serious conduct", saying the regularity and frequency of the grooming would likely affect the girl psychologically in her adult life.

However, Judge Lynch said the man's otherwise clean criminal history and previous volunteering with emergency services proved him an otherwise "useful member of the community".

The 28-year-old pleaded guilty to three counts of the indecent treatment of a child under 12 and one count of maintaining a sexual relationship with a child.

He was sentenced to five years' jail but will be eligible for parole after serving 18 months.

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