RAAF dad sentenced for grope

A RAAF serviceman has been found guilty of sexually assaulting his daughter's friend during a sleep-over at his house.

Darren James Lacey, 45, had pleaded not guilty to groping the 16-year-old girl twice on the outside of her jeans while she was asleep at his house after a pre-exam "last hurrah" party.

But a jury of five men and seven women found him guilty on Friday after a four-day trial.

Lacey has been a member of the Royal Australian Air Force for almost 28 years.

Crown prosecutor Sarah Maleckas told Ipswich District Court Lacey's behaviour had a significant and ongoing effect on the vulnerable girl.

Ms Maleckas said Lacey had not demonstrated any remorse for his actions by taking the case to trial, and noted the significant age difference and breach of trust.

Defence barrister Neville Weston said the offence was a momentary and isolated incident and if Lacey were to be sentenced to actual jail time, he would be discharged from the RAAF.

As a consequence his family would be evicted from their home, which they rented from the RAAF.

Mr Weston said Lacey, a father of six, was the sole income earner for his wife and five dependant children.

In sentencing him on Monday, Judge Deborah Richards said it was a particularly difficult sentence to impose.

Judge Richards said she had no doubt of the credibility of the girl's evidence at trial, and noted Lacey had essentially called the girl a "liar" when he took to the stand.

"She was under your roof and should have been able to trust you. Instead you preyed on her," Judge Richards said. The girl's final year of schooling had been affected and she had had ongoing emotional issues from the assault.

Lacey was sentenced to 12 months prison, wholly suspended for four years and ordered to pay $5000 compensation to the victim.


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