A 78-year-old Illawarra man arrested on child molestation charges took the extraordinary step of telling police his eight-year-old victim was to blame, saying “she made me do it”.
The man, who cannot be named because the victim is his granddaughter, claimed the young girl made sexual advances towards him over a three-year period in the early 2000s when she was aged 8-11 and he was in his 60s.
“She asked me to do it,” he said when questioned following his arrest in January this year.
“She would sit on my lap and be all over me every day.”
He even told officers at the end of the interview that he was “disappointed” the victim had made a statement to police as she had “come onto” him.
The man’s comments concerned Magistrate Peter Thompson, who sentenced the man in Wollongong Local Court on Friday.
“His comments after his arrest cause me significant concern as they demonstrate his lack of insight and remorse,” he said.
Court documents said the man often looked after his granddaughter for his alcoholic son and the pair were frequently home alone when the man’s wife went to church.
The victim recalled several assaults took place in secluded spots on the Port Kembla docks: on one occasion he had her masturbate him, while on another he made her sit on top of him while he moved her up and down quickly as he pushed his penis against her vagina.
The victim disclosed the incident to family members in 2017 before making a statement to police, leading to her grandfather’s arrest.
On Friday, defence barrister Duncan Berents told the court his client was well respected in his migrant community and an active member of social clubs and his local church group.
He said the man had a number of health conditions that would make jail time more onerous on him than others in his position.
However, Magistrate Thompson said the seriousness of the man's actions warranted a full-time jail sentence, despite his advanced age.
He set a 16-month maximum sentence, with a minimum non-parole period of eight months.
The man handed his possessions to supporters before being taken downstairs to the holding cells by prison staff.
He immediately lodged a severity appeal and sought release on bail in front of Magistrate Mark Douglass.
However, Magistrate Douglass rejected the application, saying he didn’t believe the man’s severity appeal had much of a chance of succeeding.
“My view is this sentence [will] probably be viewed as lenient,” he said.
The man’s appeal will be heard in November.