'AWFUL': Uncle points phone at 15 year-old's crotch, hits record
A FATHER has pleaded guilty to two charges of child sex related offences after he was caught recording his young niece's genital region with his phone - an offence that carries a potential maximum two year prison term.
Recovering from a recent break-up, the 48-year-old man with no previous history of sexual offending spent the week leading up to Christmas at his mother's house.
On Tuesday morning, Gladstone Magistrates Court heard that in December 2016, the man let himself into a bedroom inside his mother's home, where his 15-year-old niece sat alone, drawing.
The child and her step mother had flown to the region to spend Christmas with family.
The man asked the girl if he could take photos and closed the door behind him.
As she continued to draw he moved toward her and touched her leg. He then used his mobile phone to take a photo.
It was when she heard a beeping sound that she realised she was being recorded.
Seeing that her uncle was recording her crotch, she turned away. She then heard him replaying the video.
The court heard that she could smell alcohol on his breath.
When her step-mother came into the bedroom to check on her she saw what was happening and asked the man what he was doing, why the door was shut and told him to get out.
Four days later, the victim was brushing her hair in the bathroom, fully clothed, when she heard noises coming from outside the window and heard the same beeping sound a video recording makes.
She immediately texted her step-mother.
Defence lawyer Tom Polley said the "awful offending" occurred at a low point in his client's life. The man's five-year relationship had ended the month before, he had moved back in with his mother, was having work problems and "was hitting the bottle every afternoon".
"He wasn't seeing his child at the time either, which is something he found difficult," Mr Polley said.
"But he accepts that it's all upon him and rightly so, he's lost the trust of his family.
"He's asked me to express, he's 'so so sorry' to the complainant.
He doesn't know what the hell he was thinking or why he was doing it, he had never thought of her in that way...
Mr Polley said the offending was opportunistic and in a setting where he was most likely going to be caught.
"His stupid behaviour ... it seems obvious that it was going to be detected ... whilst he was trying to be inconspicuous it was still conspicuous in the way that it occurred."
"Even the child knew on both occasions."
The court heard the man had an impressive work history and, since the offending, had thrown himself into his employment.
Magistrate Melanie Ho accepted the defendant's remorse and effort to rehabilitate himself.
She noted the offences had cost him his relationship with his family, particularly his brother who was the victim's father.
"I accept that this is not usual conduct and it's unlikely that he needs assistance because there's an explanation behind it ... In my view he's aware ... And he has got a criminal history but nothing of a like-nature," Ms Ho said.
She concluded the offending was a one-off and came at a time when the man should have been in counselling.
The man was sentenced to one month in prison on each charge, suspended for 12 months.
A conviction was recorded.