CONTENT WARNING: This article refers to childhood sexual assault.
A justice who sentenced a man for sexually assaulting a sleeping teenager told the court that although he was young, he “must be held accountable”.
Angus Miles Gottaas-Hughes admitted filming himself sexually assaulting a teenage girl while she slept on three occasions in 2020 when he was 19.
He stood motionless with his eyes locked straight-on when ACT Supreme Court Justice Belinda Baker sentenced him on Friday (21 April) for what she called a “serious betrayal”.
The survivor has previously told the 23-year-old at his sentencing hearing that she would never recover from the assaults, but she would survive.
“Thank you for truly and utterly smashing my heart to pieces and condemning me to a lifetime of pain and suffering,” she told her attacker.
Justice Baker said the survivor had eloquently outlined the devastating impacts his actions had on her life.
“[The survivor] said she was truly broken and surviving on autopilot,” she said.
Police raided Gottaas-Hughes’s Ainslie home in 2021 following a months-long investigation instigated by a foreign law enforcement agency’s tip-off.
Devices seized contained more than 1300 videos and photos depicting the abuse of about 200 children, including the survivor of the sexual assault.
Gottaas-Hughes initially told police he was “friends with benefits” with the survivor and she had a “kink” for being touched while asleep.
Justice Baker said all these assertions were false and that Gottaas-Hughes later admitted to having “panicked and said some bullshit”.
The court heard Gottaas-Hughes, who was diagnosed with paedophilia, began accessing child abuse material at a young age.
In Justice Baker’s reasoning for her sentence, she said he showed good prospects for rehabilitation on account of his support network, commitment to psychological treatment, was of a young age, and had shown remorse for the assault, detailed in an apology letter written to the survivor.
She also noted Gottaas-Hughes had provided the name of the teenager he assaulted to police and pleaded guilty at a relatively early stage.
The court also heard that the intensive treatment programs that Gottaas-Hughes had undertaken would not be available in custody.
However, Justice Baker said a “lengthy” prison sentence was needed to recognise the harm caused to the survivor.
“One cannot lose sight of the seriousness of these offences,” she said.
“Although he is young, the offender must be held accountable for his conduct.”
He was sentenced to two years and nine months’ imprisonment, to be suspended after he served 10 months in jail if he signs a good behaviour order (GBO), which means he can be released in February 2024. The GBO will last for the remainder of the total term.
Gottaas-Hughes pleaded guilty to single counts of using a child for the production of child exploitation material, sexual intercourse without consent, possessing and accessing child abuse material and accessing child pornography, as well as two counts of committing an act of indecency without consent.
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