Step-grandfather to appeal jail term over 'touching' offence

An Illawarra man will appeal the jail sentence he received for inappropriately touching his 13-year-old step-granddaughter during a sleepover at her stepmother's house in February.

The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was yesterday sentenced in Wollongong Local Court to 18 months' jail, with a non-parole period of 12 months, after earlier pleading guilty to one count of indecently assaulting a child under 16 years.

The 52-year-old admitted to resting his hand on the girl's shorts, near the top of her legs, while she was in her sleeping bag in the backyard of the Dapto home.

The court heard the girl and her stepbrother were staying the night at the home and had decided to sleep outside on a trampoline.

The man told the children he'd stay outside with them. However, the girl awoke twice during the night to find the man inappropriately touching her.

On the second occasion she told her step-grandfather she had to go to the toilet, and walked to a friend's house down the road and disclosed what had happened.

The girl then sent her stepmother a message on Facebook regarding the incident.

Facing court yesterday, the man's lawyer, Paul Paine, said his client had never committed any similar offence in his life and was extremely remorseful for his behaviour and the psychological damage inflicted on the girl.

Mr Paine said the man had been "excommunicated" from his family, with his adult daughters refusing to speak to him.

He asked the court to consider giving his client a lengthy good-behaviour bond, arguing the criminality of the offence did not warrant a full-time jail term.

However, Magistrate Michael Stoddart disagreed, saying the man had abused his position of trust as the girl's step-grandfather.

"Goodness knows what psychological damage that will have on her for the rest of her life," he said in handing down the sentence.

"This is a very serious set of facts before the court; it's a very serious offence.

"To deal with this matter without imposing a custodial sentence is totally inappropriate."

The man was taken into custody while the severity appeal was formally lodged.

Magistrate Stoddart released him on strict conditional bail until the appeal hearing in Wollongong District Court later this month.

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