RELATED COVERAGE: Grooming paedophile gets nine years
When Christina Smith* found letters in her 14 year-old daughter’s drawer from her own 28 year-old boyfriend, the pieces of the seemingly broken relationship between her and her daughter finally fell into place.
The man, who was on Friday sentenced to a minimum of six years’ imprisonment, had been having a sexual relationship with both her and her daughter.
A sigh of relief and mixed feelings were apparent among the victims present during the sentencing in Latrobe Valley County Court on Friday.
Ms Smith said after a tough relationship breakdown with her previous partner she sought help from the Department of Human Services to build her young family up again, and had trusted her new boyfriend to help with that repair.
“(He) was on the outside supposedly helping, but intentionally trying to push us apart so (my daughter) would go towards him,” Ms Smith said.
“My daughter wanted a ‘daddy’ figure, before that we were very vulnerable and there was a male in her life that I had known for 20 years who had done nothing but use us and abuse us financially, emotionally, physically and mentally, so I was on my low.”
Ms Smith said the convicted man had continually used his position in the victims’ lives as a means to satisfy his desires.
“He groomed them well. He gave them alcohol, cigarettes, money, and if they wanted time out from mum, he would say ‘okay I’ll be there in a minute’,” Ms Smith said.
“He took it all in and used all of that information to better himself and get what he wanted.”
Following the man’s arrest, Ms Smith said she, her family and the other victims had faced physical and verbal abuse by the offender’s family and friends.
She said she had felt unsafe and had consequently moved away from the Valley and was currently homeless.
Excerpts from victim impact statements read out in Latrobe Valley County Court on Friday described the victim’s ongoing suffering as including depression and an inability to trust men.
Ms Smith’s daughter’s schooling also suffered as a result of her relationship with the man.
Instrumental in bringing the other victims forward, Ms Smith said while the victims had a lot to deal with emotionally in the future, she would be there as a support for the girls who had become closer as a result of their abuse.
“I’m destined that I’m going to be there for not only my daughter, but for those other girls as well, as much as I can be,” Ms Smith said.
*To protect the identity of the victims, the name Christina Smith was generated.