CONTENT WARNING: This article refers to a child assault.
A judge blasted the “cowards” who bullied a 12-year-old girl after she had been pushed off a bike and strangled into unconsciousness by a stranger as she rode home from school.
The girl endured the traumatising attack by Anthony James Kenyon when she had been riding through Fadden Pines in southern Canberra on 23 February 2022.
Justice Chrissa Loukas-Karlsson did not mince words at the sentencing hearing on Friday (3 November) when the ACT Supreme Court heard the girl had been bullied after the attack.
“What happened to you should never have happened. It should not happen in a civilised society,” she told the girl.
“You are in no way responsible. I note the bullying. The crime belongs to the criminal, Mr Kenyon. And to all those at school who are bullying you, you are cowards.
“Take a long, hard look at yourselves, school bullies. This young, smart, brave girl deserves support, not bullying.”
The girl had been riding home when she spotted the then-23-year-old Kenyon near her on the path, staring at her, court documents say.
He shoved her off her bike when she passed him, knocking her onto the ground. He then dragged her off the path, climbed on top of her and squeezed her neck until she lost consciousness, even though she tried to fight him off.
A man was walking in the area when he saw someone acting suspiciously, “flitting furtively” through the bushes. He discovered the unconscious girl lying on the ground and called Triple Zero.
The girl’s father drove to collect her from the park. As they were driving off, they passed Kenyon.
“That’s him. He did it,” his daughter told him.
The father pulled over, told Kenyon to wait for the police to arrive and punched him before taking a photo of him. Kenyon appeared in court the next day with a large, swollen black eye.
The girl was taken to hospital with facial and neck bruises.
“It’s an appalling crime and it’s a parent’s worst nightmare,” Justice Loukas-Karlsson said.
She urged the girl to not let the attack define her, but to use it as “fuel for a better future rather than internalising it”.
“Don’t even think for a second that you bear any responsibility. Mr Kenyon bears all the responsibility,” she said.
“Don’t allow what happened to define you, because you are a brave and strong girl who will have a great future in front of you.”
Prosecutor Katie McCann argued Kenyon would have known how vulnerable the girl had been at the time, as he would have been aware of her age and the fact she was alone in an area with few people.
She argued internet searches he had made suggested he was “harbouring this sexual interest in young girls” as well as “a violent and forcible interest in acting upon that”. He had demonstrated “a disturbing window into a predatory mindset”, she claimed.
Kenyon’s barrister, James Sabharwal, said his client seemed to have recognised the trauma he caused to the girl.
He’d told the author of a court report he “never wanted to do something like this again”. The report’s author said it appeared the main factor contributing to his offending appeared to be untreated mental health issues regarding a sexual attraction to children.
The now-25-year-old, a former McDonald’s worker from Calwell, had pleaded guilty to charges of committing an act of indecency in the second degree as well as committing an act of indecency on a young person just weeks before his trial had been scheduled to start.
Justice Loukas-Karlsson will sentence him in early December.
If you or someone you know needs help, you can contact:
Lifeline’s 24-hour crisis support line – 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service – 1300 659 467
Kids Helpline – 1800 551 800 or kidshelpline.com.au
MensLine Australia – 1300 789 978 or mensline.org.au.