A Warrnambool district man convicted of sexually assaulting his young niece has a horror criminal history involving similar offending against the victim's sister and the false imprisonment of a school girl.
The 53-year-old offender, who cannot be named because that would identity the victim, pleaded guilty in the County Court of Victoria in May to four counts of an indecent act with a child under 16.
On Thursday he received a suspended jail sentence for two years and eight months, meaning he won't spend a day in jail for the offending.
Judge Paul Higham said the man sexually assaulted his niece on three occasions in 2007 and 2008 when the victim was aged between six and seven.
The offending occured in the family home.
The court heard the man was also caught sexually assaulting the victim's sister in November 2008, by her mother who walked into a bedroom.
The judge said the man pleaded guilty to the sexual penetration of the victim's sister in May 2009 and was jailed for seven years and six months for that offending.
He said the offending against the victim stopped at that time and the offences were not reported to police until September 2018.
The judge said that he could not consider what the appropriate sentence would be if both matters had been dealt with at the same time.
But he said that since the offending, the man had served a full prison term.
"That is a compelling part of your history and totality looms fairly large in a case like this," Judge Higham said.
He said the man was also sentenced to five years' jail in 1998 for offences of false imprisonment, making threats to kill and assault with the intent to rape.
Judge Higham said that offending related to an incident in September that year and involved a 16-year-old school girl walking home from school.
He said the man had extensive ill mental health, which included experiencing auditory hallucinations as young as 18 and a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head at 23.
He said the man was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1993, which was preceded by a gradual deterioration in personality and functioning, as well as being withdrawn, isolated, irritable and experiencing paranoid experiences.
Judge Higham said during the plea hearing, the victim wrote of the compelling impact the offending had on her.
"She now struggles to feel secure and content," he said.
He said that not a day went by that the victim didn't think about what had happened and that she wrote: "You made me a victim, deprived my childhood of joy and security and left me feeling insecure, frightened and untrusting."
Judge Higham said the man was now residing in a supported residential facility.
He said that if the man returned to jail he would lose his accommodation, stability and care, which he said was "fundamental to your continuing wellbeing and rehabilitation and to the ongoing protection of the community".
The man will be registered as a serious sex offender for life.
Judge Higham said crimes against children were "quite simply crimes against our common future and our common humanity".
"Offending against children will always be viewed as most serious offending by the court," the judge said.
"There is growing recognition of the lasting impacts that such offending has or can have. It often leads to lives not fully lived. Children who have been sexually offended against have their innocence, childhood and sense of self stolen from them."
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