DPP v McPherson [2019] VCC 1745

Sentence summary: child sex offence

A man who sexually assaulted his friend’s young daughter while pretending to play in their family home was jailed.

A jury found Luke McPherson, 32, guilty of one charge of sexual penetration of a child under 12 years. He was sentenced to nine years prison with a non-parole period of six years.

The Court heard the offender took advantage of an eight-year-old girl after he was left alone with her while playing in her bedroom.

The offender, his friend and his three children were playing at their family home and decided to all move from a bedroom to the lounge room.

The offender’s friend immediately took two of his children into the lounge room, leaving just the offender and his friend’s eight-year-old daughter in the room.

The offender went to go pick up the young girl for a piggyback ride when he asked her if she could touch her sexually.

"It was at this point with only the two of you in the room, that you asked her if you could touch her vagina," the judge said.

"When she said ‘No, you can’t’, you insisted, saying 'Please, I did it to you when you were little’."

The Court heard how the offender grabbed the young girl and touched her despite her protests.

"You took advantage of the moments alone with her to commit the crime, did so in her own bedroom in her house where she was entitled to feel safe, and persisted in the act," the judge said.

The presiding judge said the offending constituted "a gross breach of the trust in you" by the young girl and her parents.

The offender argued in court that the touching was purely accidental and happened while trying to catch the young girl who had been jumping on her bed.

The jury found beyond reasonable doubt, the offender had deliberately sexually assaulted the young girl.

The judge said the victim’s impact statement highlighted the significant toll the offending had taken on her.

"In her own words she sets out very clearly the impact on her, she feels she cannot trust anyone other than her family, school friends and teachers; she is sad that it happened, and angry for what you did and what you said to her," the Court heard.

When considering the sentence, the offender’s lack of prior criminal history and array of serious mental health conditions including ADHD and OCD was noted.

The offender’s tough upbringing, including significant time in foster care were mitigating factors in the sentence. However, the Court heard only a prison sentence close to the maximum penalty of 10 years was appropriate.

"The Court must denounce your offending, and impose a sentence that is just in all the circumstances and that reflects the community’s abhorrence of sexual offending, particularly against children," the judge said.

The offender was placed on the Sex Offender Register for a period of 15 years.

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Page last updated: 26 August 2020