Man acquitted of child rape charge

A MAN accused of sexually abusing his 11-year-old step-daughter was acquitted in Bundaberg District Court yesterday.

It took the jury of seven women and five men a little more than two hours of deliberation to deliver the not guilty verdict, after hearing three days of evidence.

The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had pleaded not guilty to rape and indecently dealing with a child under 12 years old.

The prosecution had accused him of touching the girl’s genitals and forcing her to perform oral sex on him.

But in his closing statement, defence barrister John McInnes pointed out the accounts put forward by the girl had been flawed.

Mr McInnes said the girl had told the court the alleged incidents occurred at a time the family was living on Elliott Heads Road.

But the descriptions of the incident she gave made it appear the alleged abuse had occurred in a house the family had previously lived in on Quay Street, he said.

Mr McInnes said the girl had also never tried to leave the house when she had been left alone with her step-father.

“Would a person who has been subjected to that type of behaviour be caught out so many times by not knowing when her mother had left the house?” he said.

Mr McInnes said the continued changes in the girl’s account of the alleged incidents was more consistent with “a story in her mind which is not a real offence”.

He said the girl had several chances to lodge a complaint, but it took about a year after the first incident to say anything.

Prosecutor Sandra Cupina had said the girl had not felt comfortable to come forward because the allegations were against her step-father, who had been acting as her dad since she was a baby.

The girl did not come forward with oral sex allegations until she had been taken into foster care and had begun to trust her carer, she said.

Ms Cupina said this was because the girl felt “safe”.

“The case has all the hallmarks of a child molestation case - in that it happened in private, it involves a vulnerable person and it was an abuse of trust,” she said.

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