4 June 2024

Predator handed eight years' jail for blackmailing son's 15-year-old girlfriend into sex

| Albert McKnight
Court Coat of Arms

A man aged in his 50s was handed eight years in jail for abusing a 15-year-old girl. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

CONTENT WARNING: This article refers to child abuse.

A serial sex offender who blackmailed his son’s underage girlfriend into sexual intercourse has been blasted by a judge for repeatedly inflicting the horrific abuse.

“[The girl] was vulnerable, in need of a place to stay, and the offender’s son’s girlfriend,” Acting Justice Peter Berman said in his sentencing remarks that were released on Friday (31 May).

“She was entitled to expect that he would look after her, not abuse her repeatedly.”

The father, who is in his 50s, pleaded guilty to a rolled-up charge of sexual intercourse with a person under the age of 16 in the ACT Supreme Court earlier this year.

Last month, he was convicted and sentenced to eight years in jail, with five-and-a-half years non-parole.

The son had been incarcerated at a youth justice centre when the 15-year-old girl reached out to his father over Facebook to get his assistance in helping her communicate with her boyfriend more easily.

The son had told her that she could go to his father if she needed anything, so when she began having difficulties with her own parents in 2023, she stayed at the man’s home and slept in her boyfriend’s bedroom.

Over several days, the man began giving her marijuana and methamphetamine.

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She was sleeping in her boyfriend’s bedroom one night when the man walked in, woke her up and asked her, “What would you do for my son?”

He claimed a legal officer had told him that he had control over whether or not his son could get out of the youth justice centre. He then pulled down his pants and asked her for sex.

When she asked if he was serious, he replied, “It’s up to you … Or he could just stay in”.

The girl told him no, but he kept asking her, telling her his son would “never know”, and because she started to feel afraid of him, she felt she had to comply with his requests.

The man then forcefully raped her four times and sexually or indecently assaulted her numerous times over several hours.

He repeatedly warned her not to tell anyone; otherwise, he would hurt both her and his son.

The girl left the next morning. Over the next few days, the man repeatedly messaged or called her, asking her to meet up with him and threatening that she couldn’t see his son again if she didn’t answer.

Acting Justice Berman said all offences of having sexual intercourse with a child were serious, but what this man did was “a very serious example of that offence”.

“He took advantage of a vulnerable 15-year-old girl who was staying with him because she had nowhere else to go,” he said.

“He effectively blackmailed her into having sexual intercourse with him before repeatedly, over many hours, performing other sexual acts upon her.

“He has done this sort of thing before, too, and gone to prison for it.”

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The judge said the girl suffered physical injuries, which lasted for about a month, while he also assumed that the psychological effects on her would be significant and long-lasting.

The man claimed he was abused as a child himself, while a psychologist said he had a mental health impairment. He was addicted to drugs and alcohol and had a significant criminal history, including sexual crimes.

Acting Justice Berman said general deterrence was of prime importance in this sentencing exercise.

“Children like [the girl] in this case, who find themselves in need of somewhere to live, need to be protected against the predatory behaviours of people such as this offender,” he said.

As the sentence was backdated to account for time served, the man is eligible to be released from jail in November 2028.

If this story has raised any concerns for you, 1800RESPECT, the national 24-hour sexual assault, family and domestic violence counselling line, can be contacted on 1800 737 732. Help and support are also available through the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre on 02 6247 2525, the Domestic Violence Crisis Service ACT 02 6280 0900, and Lifeline on 13 11 14. In an emergency, call Triple Zero.

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