The couple were found guilty of maintining a sexual relationship with a child between late 1989 to early 1991.
The couple were found guilty of maintining a sexual relationship with a child between late 1989 to early 1991.

‘I was a sex toy’: Couple sexually abused teen for years

A MARRIED couple have each been sentenced to 13 years imprisonment for sexually abusing an underage teenager over a three-year period in the Northern Rivers.

Earlier this year the pair, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were both found guilty by a jury for maintaining a sexual relationship with a child between late 1989 to early 1991 in East Lismore, Murwillumbah and other locations.

The 62-year-old man and the 54-year-old woman, who both suffer from a range of chronic illnesses, faced Lismore District Court on Friday and were supported by their family and friends.

The victim and their supporters were also present to hear Judge Jeffrey McLennan's judgment.

Judge McLennan spent 1.5 hours explaining his reasoning for his final judgment, where he sentenced the couple to eight years each non-parole, with an additional five years imprisonment for both parties.

The first sexual intercourse with the child began when the complainant was 13 and they were babysitting at the couple's East Lismore home in late 1989.

After the complainant, who regularly stayed the night in the couple's home after babysitting, rejected the advances of the man, the couple then had their first sexual intercourse with the child a few days later following an event known as Pub to Scrub boat race in Eltham, after the woman gained the trust of the complainant.

The couple then continued to perform sexual acts on and with the child while in the presence of each other and separately between late 1989 to early 1991 at their homes in East Lismore, Murwillumbah and other locations.

Judge McLennan said he was satisfied the "coherent and compelling narrative" the complainant gave during the trial about the sexual relationship during their time in Lismore was factual.

However, he said he was "left in a state of reasonable doubt" about whether the sexual relationship with (the couple) in Lismore was maintained when they moved to Murwillumbah, where "isolated sexual acts" occurred.

Judge McLennan said "there must be some kind of continuity or habitually rather than isolated incidents" to state the relationship was maintained but "it is possible to be consistent with the sexual abuse of a child without maintaining the relationship".

"It is likely some arrangments were made about house visits, but what those arrangements were, who instigated of them and what occurred is (unclear)," he said.

Judge McLennan said both parties were responsible for taking advantage of an "emotionally vulnerable" teenager.

As part of his judgment Judge McLennan quoted the complainant's victim impact statement.

"I understand now I was a target … I trusted a woman who (I thought) wouldn't hurt a child and I fell victim to grooming and sexual assault," the complainant said in their statement.

"I was told I was special, and I should feel love from the family.

"I honestly thought I was being loved in this sick twisted abuse of two adults.

"It took time and emotional pain to recognise this was not love and when I started to understand what love was meant to be, I started to recognise … I was a sex toy for two grown adults and I was a child, that should never have happened."



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