Court photo   Photo: Chris Ison / The Morning Bulletin
Court photo Photo: Chris Ison / The Morning Bulletin Chris Ison ROK221012ccourt6

Man abused 14yo stepdaughter as wife recovered from illness

THE STEP father of a 14-year-old girl has pleaded guilty to maintaining a relationship with her last year while her mother was recovering from a stroke.

Almost every morning for six weeks, he would enter her room and with skin-on-skin contact, would rub her vagina and ask her to tell him if he was doing anything wrong.

Twenty months later the girl is suffering from depression, anxiety and blames herself for the ongoing rift in a family that has taken sides and the breakup of her mother's marriage as a direct result.

Rockhampton District Court yesterday heard how she had remained silent because she didn't want to jeopardise her mother's marriage to the defendant.

His behaviour only stopped after the girl's brother walked into her room one morning and told his mother what he'd seen.

When she called him about the accusations, he made some admissions but still sought to minimise the criminality of his actions.

It was when the girl told her cousin what had been happening, his actions came to the attention of the police on March 30, 2016.

The man, now 53, is 37 years older than the girl.

His criminal history involved a single entry in 2002 when he was convicted for tattooing a child.

Defence barrister Jordan Ahlstrand said by pleading guilty before the case went to trial, the girl had been spared the ultimate ordeal of having to give evidence under cross-examination.

He told Judge Michael Burnett there was no violence involved, no threats and no suggestion of any form of penetration.

Crown prosecutor Alexandra Baker pointed said the most aggravating factor was a breach of trust as the girl was his stepdaughter and the offences happened in her own bedroom.

The maximum sentence for maintaining a relationship with a child is life imprisonment.

He was also convicted of four counts of indecent treatment of a child under 16 in care.

Judge Burnett said the experience would have an impact of the girl's mental health for many years, if not forever.

He handed down a head sentence of two years and three months to be suspended after nine months with 18 months probation.