Brave survivor helps cops nab Bible study child sex predator
A SOUTH-EAST Queensland child abuse survivor bravely telephoned the man who spent three years sexually violating her just metres away from where her family was holding Bible study classes.
That phone call was recorded by police, resulting in a jury convicting Jamie Winston Harris on multiple charges of maintaining an unlawful sexual relationship with a child and indecent dealing following his trial at Toowoomba District Court last year.
However, the jury was unable to agree on verdicts for a number of rape charges faced by the devout Christian.
Harris appealed the convictions, claiming the verdicts were unreasonable and not supported by the evidence.
The Queensland Court of Appeal judgment shows Harris was aged in his late 20s when he befriended the parents of his would-be victim after meeting them at a local church.
The victim was seven when the abuse started and about 10 when it stopped.
The former Gladstone district resident weaselled his way into the girl's home under the pretext of taking part in religious studies with her siblings and mother and father.
He and the family would gather in the victim's lounge room for the Bible sessions.
When it was time for the girl to go to bed, he would follow her into her room to "say goodnight".
While she lay in bed, he would stroke her hair and touch her body, telling her "this is special, I love you".
The victim was aged 27 when the matter went to trial.
She told the jury the abuse happened "on most occasions" that Harris visited her home.
The woman also gave evidence that Harris abused her in other locations including on the pergola outside the house and while the family was holidaying on the Sunshine Coast and in central Queensland.
Police organised for the victim to call Harris to try to get him to talk about the offending and a recording of the call was played in court.
She said to him: "Stuff happened between us and I just kind of wanted to understand why. So you remember when you used to ... come into my room and touch me and ... on camping trips and stuff and all the stuff that went on?"
Harris replied: "I just don't really understand it meself. Yeah I, I really don't understand it either."
He was heard on the tape repeatedly denying that he raped her.
Representing himself at the appeal, Harris claimed he could not have abused the victim because the incidents at the house would have been heard or noticed by at least someone from a group of adults meeting in the next room.
He also claimed the jury misunderstood the phone call with the victim and that when he said he loved the victim it was the same love that he had for her family.
The court of appeal judges dismissed Harris's application to overturn the conviction on Tuesday.
"The evidence of the pretext telephone call was more harmful than helpful to the appellant's (Harris) case," they said in their judgment.
"The appellant made unambiguous admissions that he had had some kind of romantic interest in the complainant, which had caused him to touch her in a way which he admitted was inappropriate.
"The jury was able to use that evidence to find that he had a sexual interest in her upon which he was prepared to act, thereby increasing the probability that he had done so by other conduct."
Harris was sentenced to four years and eight months in prison and will be eligible for parole in November 2020. - NewsRegional