Texts reveal uncle's 'sexual interest' in young niece

AN UNCLE who persisted in indecently touching his niece when she visited his home has been jailed.

The girl's mother cried often during the two-hour sentence hearing before Ipswich District Court as she read out a confronting victim impact statement before Judge Michael Rackemann.

The 46-year-old man, a business executive, pleaded guilty to five counts of indecent treatment of a child under 16 between 2015 and 2017.

Police and extra security were at the packed courtroom, which included relatives and friends.

Defence barrister Jeffrey Hunter QC complained about vocal interruptions in the courtroom as he made his submission on penalty.

"It is very unhelpful to have a running commentary throughout proceedings," he said.

Judge Rackemann then asked for quiet.

Crown prosecutor Cameron Wilkins said the uncle, who was also a father, had an unblemished past before the charges came to light.

He said texts and messages on Facebook demonstrated the level and nature of "the indecency" of the uncle toward the child.

At the time, the victim was aged between 12-14 years.

Judge Rackemann asked if it was the case that some texts showed the uncle had a sexual interest in his niece.

"Yes," Mr Wilkins said.

The uncle indecently touched his niece on her breasts and buttocks outside of her clothes.

Mr Wilkins said the girl had rebuffed his advances, at times pushing her uncle's hands away. He persisted at other times when she stayed at his home.

Mr Wilkins said the girl made complaints in March 2017 and that her uncle "admitted to his wife he had an online relationship with the child for two years that felt exciting".

"No admissions were made to touching her," Mr Wilkins said.

"In a letter (to his wife), he says having an online relationship with (the girl) was a massive mistake to make.

"The letter has some level of contrition, with remorse expressed to his wife."

The couple has since divorced.

In her victim impact statement, the niece's mother said her daughter began to withdraw and the once sociable child would isolate herself in her room.

"She was always a bubbly, affectionate child but her demeanour changed. If affection was shown, she would pull away," the mother said in her statement.

The victim has been treated since for anxiety, depression, has trouble sleeping, had lost weight and was now on a mental health plan.

She had also missed many weeks of school.

In a psychological report before the court, the uncle stated the incidents happened during "horseplay" with his niece that had crossed boundaries.

Judge Rackemann said it was not an accurate to describe the man's behaviour as mere horse-play.

He sentenced the uncle to 12 months' jail, suspended for three years after he serves three months behind bars.

Some members of the girl's family applauded the sentence.



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