Father of 'child bride' granted bail under new laws

A father accused of allowing his 12-year-old daughter to get ‘‘married’’ during an Islamic ceremony has been granted bail under new laws, despite a magistrate describing the case against him as ‘‘abhorrent, disgusting and disgraceful’’.

The magistrate told a Sydney court on Monday that she believed the 62-year-old man was an ‘‘unacceptable risk’’ to the community and had a history of interfering with witnesses but decided he should be released from custody under the new NSW Bail Act.

The father of seven, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is accused of allowing his daughter to ‘‘marry’’ and have sex with 26-year-old Lebanese man who was visiting Australia on a student visa.

‘‘The facts are so abhorrent. They are disgusting and disgraceful,’’ Magistrate Margaret Quinn told Burwood Local Court.

‘‘He has no regard for the laws of NSW.

‘‘I do find him to be an unacceptable risk.’’

Despite telling the court she believed there was not a set of facts more ‘‘serious in recent times’’ she said she had to take into account mitigating factors under controversial new bail laws.

Under new legislation the presumption against bail for serious offences has been removed, which means people in custody can reapply for bail if previous risks can be mitigated by strict bail conditions.

Magistrate Quinn also expressed concerns the accused had allegedly told police he would also allow his eight-year-old daughter to be married to avoid having sex out of wedlock.

‘‘It’s a sexual intercourse ceremony, it’s not a marriage,’’ she said.

‘‘Why were they sleeping on the floor together and having sexual intercourse?’’

Documents previously tendered to the court allege the father allowed his daughter to ‘‘marry’’ a university student during an Islamic ceremony at his house in the Newcastle region.

He also allegedly gave her sexual advice and arranged to have a queen-sized bed in which they could sleep.

‘‘The advice was that she should not use the contraceptive pill nor should [her husband] wear a condom when they have sexual intercourse,’’ the papers said.

But the father will be released from Parklea Correctional Centre after Magistrate Quinn imposed strict bail conditions that would ‘‘mitigate’’ his risks of offending or interfering with witnesses.

He is not allowed to enter two mosques in the Newcastle region, nor contact his daughter or live with anyone under the age of 16.

‘‘The facts before me are most unattractive.

‘‘Any breach of those orders and you will be going straight to prison,’’ Magistrate Quinn said in a raised voice to the accused.

The man accused of ‘‘marrying’’ the child bride has been charged with 25 counts of having sexual intercourse with a child aged under 14.

He was granted bail earlier this year but remains in Villawood Detention Centre after his student visa was revoked.

The Muslim cleric who conducted the illegal Islamic ceremony pleaded guilty in April this year and was fined $500.

His religious visa was cancelled and he is awaiting deportation to Pakistan in April.

The victim’s father and ‘‘husband’’ are due to appear in court in July, where it is expected they will waive their right to a committal hearing.

Police said they do not believe the girl’s mother had any knowledge of the ‘‘marriage’’ or knew that her daughter had moved to Sydney with a man more than twice her age.

Police learned of the man and girl’s union after the accused tried to enrol the girl, who recently turned 13, at school and applied for legal guardianship through Centrelink.

The child bride and her eight-year-old sister are in the care of the Department of Community Services.

smh.com.au

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