CONTENT WARNING: This article refers to childhood sexual abuse.
A woman talked about how she longs for a life without suffering after she was sexually abused for years when she was a child.
Thomas Lewyn Small admitted sexually abusing her around eight times over two and a half years in the 2010s when she was aged between about 11 and 13 and he was in his 20s.
He kissed her, touched her body, exposed himself to her, made her touch his genitals and on two occasions he digitally raped her.
He said something like, “You liked it” or “You obviously wanted me to kiss you”, after the first incident.
The victim felt uncomfortable and didn’t understand what had happened.
Justice Verity McWilliam told the ACT Supreme Court on Thursday (28 September) that the purpose of the offences was sexual gratification and Small was “solely responsible” for them.
“Sexual abuse of children is an offence of the most serious kind,” she said, adding that this was a serious example of abuse.
The victim told the court she had been confused and too scared to talk, and felt trapped in her trauma.
“She spoke of longing for a life without every day suffering severe depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder,” Justice McWilliam said.
“She wants to know how it feels to be happy; happy about herself, happy about her life and the person she is now.”
Her mother told the court she would never forget how helpless she felt when she learned her daughter had been sexually assaulted.
“It hurts as a mother to feel I didn’t do enough to protect my own daughter,” she said.
Small, who is now 29, works as a driver for a transport company and plans to work in big-rig trucking in the future.
He said he had a difficult childhood, lived with his father and had recently been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.
Justice McWilliam said he had written a letter for the court saying “he is riddled with shame and utmost remorse for his actions” and had described them as a “juvenile decision”.
He pleaded guilty to a charge of persistent sexual abuse of a child.
Justice McWilliam said due to the dates of the offences, Small faced a maximum sentence of seven years’ jail instead of the 25 years’ jail that the charge currently carried.
She thought his remorse was genuine and that his autism diagnosis and mental health issues meant a jail sentence would weigh more heavily on him.
He was convicted and sentenced to two years and 18 days’ jail, to be suspended after he served six months in custody.
This means he can be released in March 2024 to undertake a good behaviour order for about 18 months, during which he must complete a rehabilitation program targeting sexual offending.
“Mr Small, you’ll be going into custody now,” the justice told him before he was led away by prison guards.
If you need help, or someone you know does, contact 1800RESPECT, the national domestic and sexual violence support service, on 1800 737 732.
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