A man who sexually assaulted two young sisters in their family home has been jailed over his "unmistakably serious" crimes.
Gary Bruce, 68, previously of Warrnambool, pleaded guilty in the County Court of Victoria earlier this month to three counts of indecent assault of a person under 16 and two counts of sexual penetration of a child aged between 10 and 16.
On Monday he was jailed for five years and eight months.
He must serve three years before becoming eligible for parole.
Jacinta and Elizabeth Welch were aged between 10 and 16 when they were sexually abused by Bruce at properties in Warrnambool and Allansford between 1981 and 1984.
The offender, who was aged between 27 and 30, was in a relationship with the victims' mother and at times was living with the family in his Warrnambool district home.
On one occasion, Bruce sexually penetrated Jacinta, aged 10, while her mother slept some metres away.
The victims granted The Standard permission to be identified.
Judge Michael Tinney said Bruce's crimes had a "very sizeable impact" on his victims.
Referring to victim impact statements, he said Elizabeth described a childhood that changed when Bruce came into their life.
"She was scared of you," he said.
"She mentions fear and anger and anxiety and distress, and also a regret that she didn't protect her sister.
"She should have no regret at all, she was a young girl. The only person at fault was you."
Judge Tinney said Jacinta wondered about the life she might have led without the abuse.
"But of course she will never know that life and it can't be reclaimed," he said.
"All she knows is the trajectory of her life was forever altered. She lost her sense of safety and security and her innocence.
"Jacinta's life turned upside down and no sentence imposed by me will alter that fact."
The judge praised Jacinta for "courageously" and "eloquently" reading her victim impact statement to the court.
He said the sexual penetration of a 10-year-old girl in Bruce's care was an "unmistakably serious" crime and the abuse must be actively discouraged by the court.
"(Jacinta) has had years of counselling and psychologists and medication, all of which has come at a financial cost," Judge Tinney said.
"The emotional cost is, of course, far, far greater. She believes you stole the essence of who she was but she has regained her voice."
Judge Tinney said Bruce had a history of very good employment and voluntary work, including with Bethany family refuge.
He said the man had lived a "strange and isolated type of existence" and his claim to have not had a sexual relationship since the victims' mother was "really quite unusual".
The court heard Bruce was cooperative with police, admitting to additional sexual offending against the victims which was not already known by investigators.
The judge said those admissions were valuable and warranted a demonstrable sentencing discount.
He accepted Bruce had good prospects of rehabilitation and showed some remorse, however noted a lack of empathy and insight into the impact on his victims.
Bruce will be registered as a serious sex offender for life.
If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000.
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