'Would I get a smack if I told the truth?'

A FOUR-YEAR-OLD girl's reluctant confession to her mother has unravelled a horrific tale of sexual abuse in the Mary Valley that may have spanned years.

A Gympie District Court jury deliberated for less than an hour on Tuesday afternoon before finding a 70-year-old Gympie region man guilty of maintaining an unlawful sexual relationship with a child. He was sentenced to four-and-a-half years jail.

The greying, dishevelled man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had been on bail and sat in the prisoner's dock as the verdict was read out.

The girl's mother, appearing in the witness box on Tuesday, told the court her four-year-old was in the bath when she asked her if the man had touched her inappropriately, to which the girl said he hadn't.

But after she finished her bath, the girl asked, "Would I get a smack if I told the truth?"

She then told her mother the man had touched her.

Later, in a police interview, the daughter spoke of other sexual acts he had committed on her.

The girl was only four and five years old when police interviewed her, and was unable to give details on when abuse happened or how long it had gone on for, but told police it happened "all the time" and "a million times".

Crown prosecutor Jennifer O'Brien said the girl described things a four-year-old would only know through experiencing the abuse.

"There is too much detail, too much conviction in (the girl's) account to ignore," she said.

The man had unsupervised access to the girl for two to three hours a week during the time the offences occurred.

With no other first-hand witnesses, the jury ultimately had to decide whether it believed the allegations that the man had performed sexual acts on the child.

Defence lawyer Don MacKenzie told the court it was his client's word against the child's, and with the lack of detail it was impossible to mount a strong defence with alibis.

"He's forced into a situation where he can only deny the charge," Mr MacKenzie said.

"She is just simply not reliable enough."

He said his client could have been helping the girl go to the toilet or applying cream for a rash, which may have caused the girl pain.

The girl's mother said while the accused did help the girl go to the toilet, she had no recollection of the girl having a rash.

After the allegations first surfaced and the girl's mother contacted police, the mother called the defendant to confront him as police recorded the conversation.

The jury heard that recording in court, with the mother accusing the man of "molesting" her daughter.

"My daughter doesn't lie," she said to the man.

"A four-year-old doesn't come up with lies like that."

The defendant said he had been "mucking around" and "playing games" with the girl, but in his clearly agitated state couldn't explain what that meant.

"F*** me, I don't know what you're going on about," he told the mother.

Judge Helen Bowskill said the girl had suffered emotional and behavioural problems as a result of the abuse, and was receiving counselling.

Judge Bowskill said the abuse was "predatory and callous given the child's young age", and defendant had "destroyed" her innocence.


"There hasn't been any remorse demonstrated," she said.


Judge Bowskill sentenced the defendant to four-and-a-half years jail, with no orders for a parole date.

She said she had taken his poor health, including colon and liver cancer, into consideration.

Mr MacKenzie said his client had also suffered a stroke in March, was on about eight different kinds of medication, and was "probably in the last years of his life".

It was the first time the man had been convicted of a sex offence. 

Gympie Times

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