A jury could not reach a verdict in a recent case.
A jury could not reach a verdict in a recent case. Valerie Horton

Jury fails to come to decision in molestation case

A MARYBOROUGH jury has been unable to reach a decision about a Biggenden man accused of molesting a family friend's daughter more than a decade ago.

The now 78-year-old man appeared in Maryborough District Court for a three-day trial after he pleaded not guilty to two counts of indecent treatment of a child under 16.

The man was accused of touching a 12-year-old girl on the vagina twice in 2003, while on holidays with his wife and the girls' family.

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Crown prosecutor Alexandra Baker, summing up her case, said that the man had entered the kitchen where the alleged victim was sitting and studying, and started touching her with his hand.

The victim said she pushed him away, but he started to touch her again, the second time more forceful.

Ms Baker said the man told the alleged victim at the time that his actions were "her fault for being too beautiful" and that she was not to tell anyone.

Defence barrister Michael Woodford said between the time the apparent incident took place and when the man was charged in 2015, the complainant had spoken to a number of people about the incident.

The court also watched a video recording of an interview between the accused and an officer from the Maryborough Child Protection and Investigation Unit.

In the video, the accused said he had put his arm around the girl's "side", and had warned her to "watch out" when she was older, because of how beautiful she was.

The defendant reacted with shock and denial when the officer asked him if he had touched her genitals.

Mr Woodford said the alleged victim had changed her version of the story a number of times, depending on who she spoke to, including her age at the time and the location where the incident allegedly took place.

The barrister warned the jury to be wary of the complainant's emotional state while she gave her statement.

"There can be many reasons why people can shed tears," Mr Woodford said.

The jury were sent out of the courtroom to reach a verdict about 4pm on Wednesday and were sent home two hours later.

On Thursday morning, the jury sent a note to Justice Ian Dearden which said "the jurors cannot come to a unanimous decision".

Justice Dearden said it was "disappointing" that the jury could not reach a unanimous verdict, but he understood the pressure faced by the jury.

"It's a huge responsibility and we understand that," Justice Dearden said.

The jury was dismissed about 10.30am on Thursday.

Justice Dearden said it would be up to the Crown to decide if the accused would face trial again.

"In light of your client's age and medical problems, that's something I think the Crown would think long and hard about before bringing him back in," he said.

The matter was adjourned for call-over at a later date.

The defendant's bail was enlarged.



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