An Illawarra teenager who suffered horrific, ongoing sexual abuse at the hands of her stepfather was nothing more than his ‘‘sex slave’’, a court has heard.
The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was yesterday jailed for 15 years for repeatedly abusing the girl between 2009 and 2012 when he was alone with her in their family home, south of Wollongong.
Wollongong District Court heard the man forced the teen to perform degrading sexual acts on him and have intercourse, recording the abuse on video at least 21 times and taking more than 120 photographs of the girl in sexual positions.
He also downloaded more than 630 images and 84 videos of child pornography and abuse, featuring boys and girls as young as three.
He pleaded guilty to four charges including persistent sexual abuse of a child, using a child to produce child-abuse material and possessing child-abuse material.
Judge Paul Conlon yesterday described the man's actions towards his stepdaughter as a "gross breach of trust", saying he had "exploited this vulnerable child in the worst possible way".
The court heard the abuse began shortly after the girl's 12th birthday and lasted until she was 14, only coming to police attention when a person the girl had befriended over the internet raised the alarm.
The first assault occurred in the man's workplace in late 2009, but he lost his job soon after and remained unemployed until his arrest in April last year.
The court heard the girl's mother had taken on extra shift work after her husband was fired in order to financially support the family, therefore she was absent from the home when the assaults occurred.
However, the nature of the abuse also extended beyond the physical, Judge Conlon said.
During the man's sentencing yesterday, Judge Conlon recounted the details of a handwritten letter the stepfather had left for the young girl when he briefly left the house one day.
Titled simply "obey", the letter ordered the teen to choose one of three sexual acts for the duo to engage in when he returned to the house. The man went on to threaten that if the girl did not perform the acts he would force her to engage in more sexual activity.
"That letter is a vivid example of the psychological pain inflicted upon the victim and his total dominance and control over her," Judge Conlon said.
"It is clear she has been reduced to nothing more than a sex slave."
In a typed letter submitted to the court, the man claimed to have had a difficult childhood himself and had also been abused, but Judge Conlon noted no evidence substantiating those assertions had been put before the court, prompting him to give limited weight to the claims.
Judge Conlon did acknowledge, however, that the 44-year-old had shown remorse for his actions, had entered early guilty pleas to the offences and had a reasonable prospect of rehabilitation.
He sentenced the man to 15 years in prison, with a non-parole period of 11 years.
With time already served, the man will be eligible for release on parole in April 2023.