Recent Case

R v JF (Unreported, Woods QC DCJ)

In this matter Greg Walsh acted for JF (“the Accused”) who was charged with seven (7) counts of sexual assault upon his step-daughter (“the Complainant”).  The allegations were from 1999 until 2005.

The allegations commenced with an alleged incident in 1999 when the Complainant was aged eight (8). She alleged that, in the shower of the family home, she was subjected to an act of oral intercourse.

Later in the same year, the Complainant alleged that she was asleep in her bedroom with her sister when a similar act was perpetrated upon her and then an act of vaginal intercourse was alleged to have taken place.  At the time the Complainant was aged eight (8).

A further act of alleged oral intercourse was also alleged in similar circumstances to that of the previous incident.

There was a further incident in the context of the Accused explaining circumcision to the Complainant when he showed her his penis.

Thereafter there was a further alleged act of penile/vaginal intercourse.

The last incident was alleged to have occurred in the first half of 2005.

The Complainant tragically had a history of self-harm and suicidal ideation.  Her natural father had separated from her mother several years before the alleged incidents and had then left Australia to live overseas.  This had a significant impact upon the Complainant.

The Complainant had a very difficult relationship with the Accused (her step-father).  It was apparent that they clashed about most things and clearly did not get on.  The Complainant was very unhappy and felt that she was treated in a belittling fashion by the Accused.

The Complainant confided in her teacher of the degree of unhappiness that she had at home.  She was spoken to by a School Principal and denied any inappropriate conduct on the part of her step-father.  The teacher to whom she had spoken then travelled overseas, at which time the Complainant and the teacher commenced to communicate with each other by way of emails.  The teacher had a belief that the Complainant had been sexually assaulted by her step-father and to this the Complainant told her that that was not the case.

The Complainant was self-harming though this fact was not known even to her mother or the Accused.

In 2008, the Complainant spoke to a counsellor who told her that she had been sexually assaulted and that she should accept that as a fact.

At the commencement of the trial, issues relating to sexual assault communications privilege arose. It was apparent on the face of the Complainant’s statement that she had come to a belief that her symptoms of self-harm, depression and anxiety must have been attributable to a traumatic force in this case sexual abuse.  She communicated her views at varying times to a number of other people including her mother and other friends in the area in which she lived.  In one document, she expressed a number of theories about her symptoms but in doing so did not make any reference to the specific allegations that ultimately came to be the subject of the charges against the Accused.

In time, the Complainant came to a belief that she had disassociated from her emotions and that this process of disassociation had been explained to her was because she must have been sexually assaulted. Whilst overseas, the Complainant experienced incidents of “flashbacks” and “out of body experiences” which, according to her former teacher (who was living in that overseas country), were real experiences of the recounting of having been sexually assaulted by her step-father.

Greg Walsh made an application for access to be granted to a large amount of material including over 1,000 pages of email communications and other materials between the Complainant and her former teachers and Counsellors.  His Honour Woods DCJ in part granted the application which also was supported by the Crown Prosecutor. The Complainant herself was represented by Counsel, who opposed the application for access to be granted to the material.

His Honour held that there was a legitimate forensic purpose in access being granted to the material because the material was of significant probative value as to the credibility and reliability of the Complainant.

The learned Crown Prosecutor, after being granted access to the material (along with Mr Walsh), then considered the material and conferred with the Complainant.  The material was consistent with the Complainant having Recovered Memories and a belief that various symptoms that she suffered from must have been due to having been sexually assaulted.

The Director of Public Prosecutions directed a no bill against the Accused.  He was then formally discharged of each of the charges against him on 29 October 2012.