R v SDD — District Court Maryborough

Greg Walsh represented SDD in respect of 13 counts of indecent dealing and 5 counts of observations of recordings in breach of privacy. The trial commenced at the District Court at Maryborough on Monday 5 February 2018 and concluded Friday 9 February 2018.

The Accused had pleaded not guilty to counts 1 to 13.

The Complainant had given a statement to Police on 12 March 2016 and was admitted into evidence under section 93A of the Evidence Act. The Complainant gave further evidence and was cross-examined in a pre-recorded hearing in June 2017. It was admitted under section 21 AK of the Evidence Act.

The Complainant was 14 years of age at the time of the alleged offending. The Accused was her step-father. The Accused and the Complainant and her mother and other children resided at Archer Drive, Hervey Bay. There were a number of counts in which the Accused walked into the bathroom, whilst the Complainant was having a shower and threw a cup of cold water over the top of the shower cubicle. The Accused laughed and walked out and the Complainant’s mother yelled out “she is a teenager you shouldn’t be doing that.” There was evidence that the Complainant performed practical jokes upon the Accused in the family home. Another incident involved the Accused throwing a jug of water over the Complainant while she was having a shower. The Complainant also had thrown water over the Accused when he was having a shower.

A number of the counts were alleged to have occurred when the Complainant requested that the Accused give her a massage. There was evidence that she had suffered from physical injuries and had for instance, a problem with her lower back. A number of massages were carried out in the presence of the Complainant’s mother. It was the Accused’s case that these massages were simply that and did not involve any inappropriate touching constituting indecent assaults. The Complainant gave evidence in respect of some of the incidents which were consistent with the Accused having given her a massage.

An important issue in the trial was that the Accused and the Complainant’s mother separated in difficult circumstances. Post separation, the Accused still communicated with the Complainant and she was quite positive in her contact communications with him.

The Complainant had over a number of years, attended upon a psychologist but there had been no complaint to that psychologist until after the Complainant’s parent’s marriage had broken down. The Complainant gave evidence that she did ask for massages as she regarded them as being harmless. It was only after a trip in a truck, driven by the Accused in January 2016, the Complainant first made a complaint to the psychologist.

There was evidence in the trial that the Complainant had been involved in a sexual relationship with a boy who lived nearby when the family was at Aldershot. The sexual relationship between the Complainant and this boy had come to the notice of the Accused and his then wife. This had been the subject of referral to the psychologist and discussions had taken place between the respective families of the boy, the Accused and his wife, to provide support to the Complainant and to convey to her inappropriate aspects of her relationship with the boy because of her age and other subjective difficulties. The Accused actually attended upon the psychologist and actively sought to identify relevant issues and to assist the Complainant and her mother in dealing with these. It was in this context that the Accused admitted that he had a number of conversations with the Complainant which were no more than he being genuinely concerned about her welfare. This was especially so in the context of the conversation in the truck when the Accused was giving a lift to the Complainant to a party which she wanted to attend.

The Accused denied ever going into the bathroom at Aldershot to look at the Complainant when she was in the shower. In mid-2009, a lock was put on the inside of the bathroom by the builders when the house was built by the Accused and his wife.

On 9 February 2018, the Jury acquitted the Accused on counts 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 13 and convicted him on counts 5 and 6 relating to viewing the Complainant naked in the shower at Aldershot.