The mother of an Adelaide girl sexually assaulted by her grandfather has told a court his “despicable crime” is too horrifying for people to hear and her family now lives isolated and silenced.

Key points:

  • The man was found guilty in 2020 of sexually assaulting his granddaughter
  • The victim and her parents read impact statements in court, labelling the assault an “atrocity”
  • His lawyer requested home detention, as the man no longer has sexual function due to prostate cancer

The man, who is a retired teacher and former church pastor, was found guilty last year of indecently assaulting his granddaughter when she was six years old.

The girl was at his home and in his care at the time of the offence.

The South Australian District Court heard her grandfather did not recall the historical offending but had accepted the judge’s verdict.

During sentencing submissions, the victim — who cannot be identified — told the court she was an impressionable young child at the time who did not know what was going on.

“The only reason I didn’t say anything then was for some reason I thought it was something that just happened,” she said.

“And you took advantage of that and that’s actually disgusting.

“I honestly think you’re pathetic for not saying guilty to the charges, since I’m 1,000 per cent sure you didn’t forget what happened.

“I know I’m related to you, but you aren’t family anymore and that changed a long time ago.”

Crime the ‘ultimate betrayal of trust’

The victim’s mother said she was shocked and horrified when she found out that a grandparent could commit such a crime.

“Seeking support from friends is near impossible as this crime … is too horrifying for others to hear,” she told the court.

“I’m also haunted thinking about how to save all the other children out there from this despicable crime.”

The victim’s father said he had now withdrawn from his extended family and had been let down by the man he should have trusted the most — his own father.

“This crime is the ultimate betrayal of trust that my father could possibly have committed to my daughter and me as his son,” he said.

“I don’t understand how he could have been so selfish; he has done something that can never be undone.

“If you imagine a beautiful vase, a precious family heirloom that is more valuable than any amount of money, he smashed it and it can’t be repaired and put back together.”

Man’s remorse ‘very late’, judge says

The man’s lawyer, Samuel McDonough, told the court home detention should be considered instead of jail because he had only committed the crime once and no longer had sexual function as a result of prostate cancer.

“That’s a permanent infirmity that goes to the heart of this offending, if he suffered from that medical condition at the time of the offending, this offending would not have been able to take place,” he said.

“Despite potentially thousands of hours of opportunity to offend again, it never occurred again.

“That is a relevant consideration and may put it somewhat at odds with the normal circumstances of this offending being committed.

“It’s a total affront to decency and we don’t think to say this isn’t a serious offence or that it won’t have serious impact, but to sentence [him] to prison is not your honour’s only option.”

Judge Adam Kimber SC said the man had written to him since the guilty verdict, saying he was “deeply remorseful”.

“His remorse has come very late in the piece,” he said.

“It’s still the case that he used a child in his care to advance his own sexual gratification … with whom everyone would agree there was a significant position of trust.

“It’s tragic to hear but, sadly not at all surprising that this has had a devastating impact upon the family unit.”

The man faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail and will be sentenced at a later date.