Grubby dad assaults friend's daughter on camping trip

A DAD lost his best mate's friendship after harassing and indecently assaulting the man's daughter on a family camping trip.

Now in jail for the indecent assaults on the girl and her 12-year-old school friend, the man had sought to have the loss of his valued friendship taken into account when sentenced.

The 32-year-old Ipswich man sought through his barrister to have it considered a special circumstances in mitigating the sentence to be imposed by an Ipswich Judge.

The man pleaded guilty in Ipswich District Court to five charges of indecent treatment of children under 16 at Lake Maroon near Boonah in January 2017.

The crimes came to light when the man's wife told the mother of one girl.

Crown prosecutor Alicia Thomas outlined the circumstances of the man's offending with two charges involving one child, and three offences against the other girl.

The offences were committed in four separate incidents on the same day of the camping trip.

It started in a tent with one girl telling him to stop and pushing him away when he tried to touch her breasts.

He grabbed her hand and put it on his erect penis before returning back to the camp fire where the adults were.

More assaults occurred that night at a boat trailer and again in the tent, the girls telling him to stop.

He was pushed away and one girl intervened when he tried assaulting her friend.

That night he denied anything had happened but later confessed to his wife although not revealing the full extent.

He blamed his behaviour on being heavily intoxicated.

Ms Thomas said the aggravating factor was the offences being done against vulnerable children and the harm this caused.

She said jail was not a sentence of last resort in such a case unless there were special circumstances.

The Crown case was that there were no such circumstances - "they were 12, he was 30," Ms Thomas said.

"It was particularly brazen. At a camp fire where there were parents, his wife, and another couple."

"One child had to protect the other child. And is pushed back. Not violent but somewhat forceful."

Ms Thomas said the man's conduct was persistent.

She said while claiming to have been too intoxicated to know what he was doing, he desisted when a girl's mother walked toward the tent.

"He did know his conduct was wrong and able to desist when an adult was approaching," she said.

Ms Thomas said two victim impact statements revealed the mental harm the children suffered.

The Crown sought a jail sentence of 12 months. Ms Thomas acknowledged that the measures instigated at jails because of the COVID-19 pandemic with new prisoners having to go into 14 days isolation meant it would be more onerous.

Defence barrister Anna Cappellano said the man wrote two letters of apology.

Judge Alexander Horneman-Wren SC said the man wrote the children did nothing wrong and that he did and that he "should have known better".

Ms Cappellano said the offending was regarded as being out of character and a 12 month jail term was appropriate.

Judge Horneman-Wren noted in the written defence submission on penalty the man's marriage ended and he lost his friendship with the father of one girl.

"That his best mate is no longer his best mate because he sexually assaulted his daughter," he said.

"This would be a normal consequence and not special circumstances."

Ms Cappellano agreed saying "yes they are consequences that flow quite naturally from the offending".

Judge Horneman-Wren referred to a comparative legal case in which a Judge found it to be highly unusual (extraordinary circumstances) when a convicted sex offender was excommunicated from his church yet Catholic priests were still saying mass.

Judge Horneman-Wren said to lose a friendship could not be considered as being extraordinary circumstances.

He said the man deliberately placed himself in the presence of the girls despite their rebuffs of his intentions.

His intoxication "provides absolutely no excuses".

Judge Horneman-Wren said in sexual offences against children jail was not a sentence of last resort and he must serve jail time.

The girls had suffered emotional trauma as a result and there had been impacts on schooling.

He said the fact of a prisoner going into quarantine for 14 days as a result of COVID-19 while relevant was not exceptional circumstances.

"Abuse of children is a gross violation of trust the community generally has in trust against the most vulnerable," he said.

"I am unable to come to the view it is matter where exceptional circumstances have been demonstrated."

With no previous offences on his record, the man was sentenced to a jail term of 12 months, - suspended for 18 months after he serves two months.

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