Businessman jailed on sex charges

A NORTHERN RIVERS businessman has been jailed for at least 27 months after a Lismore District Court jury found him guilty of having sex with his then wife's sister when she was a 15-year-old schoolgirl.

The man, now aged 50 and 23 years older than his victim, was sentenced yesterday by Judge James Black to four years' jail, with a non-parole period of two years and three months.

His sentence was back-dated to February 25, 2009, with the man eligible for release from prison on May 24 next year.

In March a trial jury found him guilty of three of 11 Crown charges – one count of indecent assault in December 1998, and two counts of having sexual intercourse with a girl under the age of 16.

Defence barrister Kate Traill pleaded for some leniency in sentence, stating her client suffered a post traumatic stress disorder after spending a long time in police custody and in an overseas prison before being returned to Australia.

Ms Traill claimed overseas police threatened him and he was ‘assaulted, punched, electrocuted, threatened with guns and burnt by cigarettes' before going to prison.

Judge Black said Ms Traill did not have to distress her client by having him give evidence (about his experiences) as he had already been told of the picture and medical evidence before the court confirmed and reinforced that.

Ms Traill said it was an exceptional case as her client suffered during 13 months spent in the overseas prison.

She said this was exacerbated by the delay in bringing the complaint in 2002 and a further delay in police charging him.

Ms Traill said in that time her client had since rehabilitated himself and remarried, and a long jail sentence would ‘destroy him'.

“All up it is now 18 months he has served (in custody), with 13 of them under extremely harsh conditions (overseas),” Ms Traill said.

The Crown described the offences as serious, they had not been isolated and were ‘clearly acts of exploitation' of a girl who was in a vulnerable position as the young sister of the offender's wife.

“He took advantage of her and did exhibit a degree ofexploitation,” the Crown said.

“There was a large age difference of 23 years between the offender and child.

“She was way too young to be placed in the position she was by the offender.”

Judge Black said such offences are ‘regrettably' quite common in the courts ‘and judges know they have long-lasting effects' on the lives of the victims.

He said he accepted that the offender's time in custody overseas had been far worse than his custody in Australia, and that he had gone through some frightening experiences that had caused him considerable distress, and ‘encounters with undesirable individuals of an extreme nature'.

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