A retired South Australian police officer has been found guilty of sexually abusing his two young stepdaughters two decades ago.

WARNING: This story contains content that may be distressing to some readers.

Earlier this month the man, who was a serving officer at the time of the offences, was found guilty in the District Court of two counts of maintaining an unlawful sexual relationship with a child and one count of aggravated assault.

The Criminal Law Consolidation Act was changed last year from the charge of “unlawful sexual relationship with a child” to “sexual abuse of a child”.

The officer was charged before the legislation came into effect.

The sexual offending occurred over a period of about seven years in the early 2000s while the girls were in primary school.

The aggravated assault charge involved the officer grabbing one of the girl’s by the throat and holding her up against the wall.

The court heard that offence occurred when she was a teenager after the sexual offending had ended.

The man, now aged in his 60s, was arrested in January 2022.

In his reasons for verdict Auxiliary Judge Gordon Barrett said the victims initially reported the allegations to their partners as adults before together alerting their mother.

They went on to report the allegations to Bravehearts — an Australian child protection organisation — before alerting SA Police in March 2021.

Both women, their mother — along with the person they each first confided in about the abuse — all gave evidence at trial.

“I find that there is convincing evidence of the accused’s guilt in respect to each charge,” Judge Barrett said.

Judge found witness evidence was ‘impressive’

Judge Barrett said both women, who each gave evidence at trial, were “impressive witnesses”.

“They both gave their evidence in a straightforward way without any apparent evasiveness or exaggeration,” he said.

He said the accused officer who gave evidence to deny the offending was “not an impressive witness”.

“Although his examination-in-chief on the substance of the allegations was extremely brief, there were unsatisfactory aspects to his answers in cross-examination,” he said.

In his defence, the officer also called a retired former colleague to provide character evidence to the court.

A former colleague of the officer gave character evidence at trial.(ABC News: Che Chorley)

Judge Barrett said he considered the possibility of collusion between the sisters, but found “the combination of similarity and dissimilarity” between the account of each victim told “against collusion and contamination”.

“In this case, I am satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the complainants have not colluded to tell false stories and they have not had what they have heard from the other contaminate their own account,” he said.

Prosecutors had asked the court to revoke bail when the officer was found guilty, but Judge Barrett declined the application.

The officer remains on bail ahead of his next scheduled appearance in court next month.

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