Step dad accused of sexual abuse to face new trial
A TOWNSVILLE stepfather accused of preying on two young boys has been granted a new trial after an appeals court found the original conviction amounted to a miscarriage of justice.
The man, who cannot be named, to protect the identity of the children, is accused of a string of vile sexual abuse when the boys were aged five and six.
Prosecutors allege the offending came to the attention of police when concerned grandparents of the brothers raised the alarm.
The man was living with the family as a de facto husband for about a year between January 2017 and February 2018.
He was accused of six offences including rape and making both children perform sex acts on each other - but pleaded guilty to all charges.
After a jury found him guilty of four offences, the man appealed the verdict claiming the verdict were "unreasonable and not supported by evidence" and that an aggregation of errors during the trail resulted in a "miscarriage of justice".
The appeal was also on the ground that the trial judge failed to tell the jury that the evidence of misconduct against one of the boys could not be applied as proof of offences against the other.
In a ruling handed down in Brisbane last week, the three Court of Appeal Judges unanimously agreed that to allow the appeal on the grounds of a "miscarriage of justice" but rejected claims the man was unreasonably convicted.
The judges rejected criticisms from the man's legal team that police asked leading questions in recorded interviews and that the boy's evidence had so many discrepancies that there was a significant possibility that the man was wrongly convicted.
"It is true that the police interviewer prompted (the boys) on occasion by directing their attention to a particular allegation … while that prompted the attention of the interviewee to a particular topic, it did not suggest a particular answer," the appeal judges found.
"Children as young as that do not think in sequential form, are prone to distraction and need direction in order to maintain focus.
"It is entirely predictable that the accounts will be in a form that is to a trained and logical mind, haphazard but, that does not mean such accounts are unreliable."
While the appeal judges rejected the first ground, they accepted that the judge failed to direct the jury about the cross-admissibility of evidence of sexual conduct with each boy.
"The jury were given no instructions of the use which could or could not be made of one complainant's evidence in the case involving the other complainant," the appeal judges said.
The man's convictions were set aside and a retrial was ordered.
*For 24-hour sexual violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636.
Originally published as Step dad accused of sexual abuse to face new trial