Note: Cross posted from [wp angelfury] A Human Rights Issue-Custodial Justice.
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Ross Irby | 5th December 2009
A DIVORCED dad and former teacher has been found guilty of raping his daughter when she was aged just 10 and 11 at his Northern Rivers home – a crime the court was told is the worst allegation that can be made against a father.
A Lismore District Court jury yesterday took two and a half hours to return guilty verdicts on three counts of rape and one count of indecency relating to a series of offences in 2004 that occurred when the little girl stayed with her father on shared parenting arrangements.
As the verdicts were read out in the courtroom before Judge James Black, the father gave a quick gasp, then quickly maintained his composure.
As he left the dock in custody he thanked his barrister. His sentence date was adjourned to February 26.
During the five-day trial the man, aged in his 50s, maintained his innocence and gave evidence from the witness stand that there had been no sexual misconduct between him and his daughter.
As the trial progressed a picture emerged of a deeply troubled daughter and a family badly bruised by an acrimonious divorce.
In his final summing up yesterday morning, defence barrister Anthony Smith urged the jury to conclude that his client was a loving and caring father `who would not harm a hair on his child's head'.
Mr Smith said there was no medical evidence or eyewitness to support the daughter's complaints, adding she had been a child who was anxious and depressed and who at the time desperately wanted to spend more time with her dad.
"The world's worst wreck is a broken marriage," Mr Smith said.
"The tragedy (of such a break-up) has been on show. In the dock is a man who faces the worst allegation that can be made against a father. You must be satisfied beyond doubt," he said to the jury.
Mr Smith said the child's accusations had not been made for some years afterward, despite the girl attending regular sessions with a counsellor and a psychologist.
He revealed personal letters the troubled daughter had written, including to a trusted teacher that spoke about the emotional turmoil in her life with ongoing fights, anger and sadness within herself and her family. "I hate my life. When I cry no one understands," she wrote.
The Crown case included an allegation the father had treated his daughter more like a wife, where she would have to get his beer and help cook, and which moved on to the sexual offences.
"There is no doubt she was a very troubled child at that time," the Crown said in his final submission.
"It is very clear that something very traumatic is going on in her life at the time to make her move from I love my dad to the position of never wanting to see her dad again."
The Crown said it would be very confusing, traumatic and life shattering to a child when a person they believed they could rely on to protect them behaved in such a way; and because of this enormous confusion had not told any one.