Child sex sentence cut

A FORMER Mildura man jailed for having sex with a teenage girl whom he later pressured into marrying him has had his sentence, but not his parole date, reduced on appeal.

The 59-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was convicted in Queens­land in February after pleading guilty to maintaining a sexual relationship with a child under 16 from 1992 to 1994.

His sexual abuse of the teenage girl began in Victoria in 1991, when the girl and her ­sister moved to Mildura to stay with the man – who had been in a relationship with the complainant’s mother.

The victim, aged just 13 when the man first had sex with her, viewed him as a ­“father figure”, the Queensland Court of Appeal heard.

The girl denied any abuse after her ­mother raised concerns with police but later said the man had told her she would be sent to prison if she ever told anyone.

The complainant and the man moved first to NSW and later to Queensland and their relationship continued even after the girl turned 16.

He had told her to act like his wife so no one would suspect she was underage.

The pair married in 2004, when the victim was 25 and the man was 45, at his insistence. She had four children to the man and suffered three miscarriages while still a child.

After the relationship ended in 2010, the woman made a complaint to police and the man was later prosecuted in Victoria and eventually given a two-year prison sentence, wholly suspended, after pleading guilty.

He was later extradited to Queensland and committed to stand trial there over the offences committed after the pair moved north.

The man was sentenced to seven years’ jail with a non-parole period of two years and three months in the Queensland District Court but lodged an appeal, arguing the sentence was manifestly excessive because the offending was a continuation of the crime committed in Victoria.

Three appeal judges found the man could not have been sentenced to nine years’ jail, the combined total of his Victorian and Queensland sentences, had all the offending been heard together.

His total head sentence was reduced from seven years to six but the man’s June 2020 parole eligibility date was not changed on appeal.

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