Gippsland man jailed

A 36 year-old man has been handed a seven-year prison sentence for historic cases of sexual assault across Gippsland.

Yesterday the Latrobe Valley Country Court heard from three victims.

Two of the victims were sisters, whose older sister was in a de facto relationship with the accused.

The court heard a third victim was 11 years old at the beginning of the offending.

The accused was 21 at the time.

The Gippsland man pleaded guilty to the charges including maintaining a relationship with a child under 16, indecent acts with a child under 16 and sexual penetration of a 16 to 17 year-old under care, supervision or authority. Other charges related to recklessly causing injury.

He was sentenced as a serious sexual offender and will remain on the sexual offender register for the rest of his life.

Judge John Smallwood sentenced the man to seven years with a minimum parole of four years and three months, recognising 371 days under sentence.

“Community protection is an important part of the sentencing process,” Judge Smallwood said, adding a “crushing sentence” and significant jail time was the only option.

One of the victims told the court the offender had changed the course of her life and family, as she struggled with depression and self-esteem and was unable to live in her home town of 20 years.

“I was exposed to a situation that no child should be,” the victim said.

The court heard the two sisters were assaulted when they were in their early teens while staying with their elder sister and the offender at their home and on camping trips in Gippsland.

Prosecutor Damien Hannan told the court the offender first met the elder of the two sisters when she was 13, who then thought the offender was “cool” and “made her feel special”.

Mr Hannan told the court the offender sexually penetrated one of the sisters when she was 16.

He said the victim continued to cry while the offender told her to “shh” and penetrated her without consent.

“Following this incident the victim went to a medicine cabinet at the property and deliberately took a large amount of medication which later caused her to become ill,” Mr Hannan said.

The court heard the victim later formed a relationship with the offender and lived with him in the Northern Territory when she was in her late teens.

The court heard the offender began a sexual relationship with the third victim when she was 11 years old and he was 21.

Mr Hannan told the court on one occasion the offender picked up the victim in a blue Holden station wagon and drove her to the Moe Botanical Gardens car park.

The court heard while in the car he began kissing her, put his fingers inside of her and told her that he loved her and that they should run away together.

The court heard the offender later had sexual intercourse when the victim was 15 in the backseat of his car at the Leongatha Football Oval.

A relationship between the offender and victim later commenced in August 2013.

The court heard examples of domestic violence, including the offender ramming the victim’s head into a nearby cupboard causing an abrasion to her nose.