Man ‘dreaming' as he touched child

A CHILDERS man jailed yesterday for inappropriately touching his 10-year-old stepdaughter in bed told the girl's mother he was dreaming during the incident.

The man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the child, appeared in Bundaberg District Court and pleaded guilty to indecent treatment of a child under 12.

He was jailed for 12 months, to be suspended for three years after serving three months.

The court was told the incident happened on May 26, 2010, when the man's wife and three of her children went to Brisbane for medical treatment.

The man was left in charge of the child, then aged 10, who had asked to sleep in his bed because she was unwell.

Prosecutor David Nardone told the court that, in the morning, the man slipped his hand under the girl's underwear and rubbed her groin area.

When the girl rolled on to her side to get away from him, he continued to touch her.

Mr Nardone said the man later told the girl not to tell her mother about it, because he would go to jail and her mother would not love him anymore.

The girl told her mother, who confronted the man, but he said he had been dreaming and thought it was her in bed with him.

Defence lawyer Kim Bryson said the man had made an effort to address his offending behaviour.

He had been treated by his GP for depression, and at the time of the offence he used cannabis regularly, but had since given up.

He had also sought counselling from his GP and a psychologist.

"His marriage has ended as a result of his offending behaviour," she said.

Judge Michael Rackemann said there were a number of concerning aspects, including the victim's age.

"You betrayed the trust she had in you," he said.

"Offences of this kind call for sentences that act as deterrents."

Judge Rackemann said he took into account the man's early guilty plea, which saved the victim from further trauma.

But he said the girl now showed signs of anxiety and of being withdrawn.

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