A 95-year-old World War II veteran has avoided full-time jail after pleading guilty to the aggravated sexual assault of his 12-year-old granddaughter in the early 1990s.
A NSW Police spokesperson said as far as they are aware, the man is the oldest child sex offender to be sentenced in the state.
Acting Judge Greg Grogin sentenced the Victorian man, who lived in Eden on the Far South Coast at the time of the assault, to a suspended sentence of one year and 10 months in Bega District Court on Friday.
The man was supported in court by family members as he sat motionless in the dock while Acting Judge Grogin handed down his sentence.
Acting Judge Grogin said he found statements made by the man after his 2017 arrest, describing his granddaughter as a “sex pot from an early age”, as “quite bizarre”.
The offence occurred while family members holidayed at the man’s Eden home, and the man would go from tent to tent telling children bedtime stories in what the family called “tent city”.
His granddaughter was alone in a trailer on the man’s property when he told her he “wanted to kiss her down there”, while she pretended to be asleep.
In her victim impact statement the victim said she “feels physically sick and nauseous” when remembering the assault, and how she was forced by the man to keep it a secret.
Acting Judge Grogin told the court the man, who was described as a “well-liked”, had told police after his arrest he had fallen for “the trap and she was acting like a stripper”.
Acting Judge Grogin described the man’s behaviour as “disgraceful”, and said he had shown “limited indication of true remorse”, taken part in “victim blaming” and abused of his position of trust.
He said “community standards and expectations” should be reflected in the sentence and “general deterrence looms large”.
“He did not admit his offending until police were involved,” Acting Judge Grogin said.
Acting Judge Grogin said the man’s advanced age, low risk of reoffending, the “psychological stress” of jail, his “naivety” and possible exploitation in a jail setting, the “low and mid-range objective seriousness” of the offence and “prior good character” were taken into account during sentencing.
He also received a 25 per cent reduction to his sentence for his guilty plea in Bega Local Court in May.
The man, who has hearing difficulties, gently nodded his head and spoke in a croaky voice when asked by Acting Judge Grogin is he understood his sentence.