Rockhampton court.
Rockhampton court. Chris Ison ROK270716ccourt2

Prison time for man found guilty of past sexual abuse

A MAN convicted of sexually assaulting his young cousins will serve time in prison, decades after the crimes were committed.

The relief among the cousins, now women, was evident as they left the courtroom after sentencing, audibly relieved the man who assaulted them as children would not walk free from court.

The 45-year-old man, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was found guilty last month of several counts of indecent treatment of a child under 16 after a trial in Rockhampton District Court.

A jury found the man assaulted three female cousins, each between six and nine years his junior, on multiple occasions in the 1980s and 1990s.

On one occasion, the man (who was at the time a juvenile himself) touched his nine-year-old cousin's breast.

On another occasion, he put his hand underneath his cousin's bikini top and fondled her breasts.

Once during a game of hide and seek, the man told his seven-year-old cousin he was allowed to touch her vagina because they were related.

Judge Michael Burnett said the most serious instance was when one of the cousins woke up to find him on top of her, touching her genitals underneath her clothing.

Judge Burnett said the victim impact statements of each of the women made it clear they had been "indelibly scarred” by the man's treatment.

"Not only has the offending impacted your broader family ... it has particularly impacted these girls in their own way,” he said.

Judge Burnett noted he had since led what could be described as a blameless life.

The sentence involved some technical challenges because some counts had to be dealt with as they would have been were he convicted in the Children's Court in the 1980s.

He was given a head sentence of 18 months' imprisonment, suspended after five months with a three-year operational period, and probation for two years.

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