Family left broken after girl, 6, raped by babysitter

A BABYSITTER convicted of raping a six-year-old girl while her parents were at a Christmas party has been jailed.

Paul Rognvald Groundwater, 53, was sentenced to three and a half years' jail in Brisbane District Court on Tuesday for his "predatory" assault on the young girl on two days in 2016 and 2017.

During a four-day trial, a jury found the former Fraser Coast resident guilty of two counts of rape and four counts of indecent treatment of a child under 12, but acquitted Groundwater of two other rape charges.

Prosecutor Steven Dickson told the court Groundwater, who pleaded not guilty to all charges, had shown "no remorse" for the sexual abuse carried out while the young girl was in his care.

The court heard Groundwater forced the girl to perform oral sex on him twice - once in December 2016 while her parents were at a Christmas party and the second time on New Year's Day in 2017 when they were at Archerfield speedway.

Heartbreakingly, Mr Dickson said the girl was so young she still "doesn't fully understand the gravity of what has happened to her".

"It's had an effect on her where she has spoken innocently to people her own age about the offending …"he said.

Mr Dickson said since the abuse, the girl's family have been left with feelings of "increased anxiety, self blame, anger, sadness, stress and feelings of despair".

Defence barrister Joshua Jones said Groundwater's family and friends were "shocked" by his conviction, particularly as he had no criminal history, and there had been no evidence of grooming or threats.

Mr Jones told the court his client had received a brain injury when he was a young man after a tree fell on the car he was driving and this impaired his "impulsivity".

Mr Jones said Groundwater had been "plagued with difficulties" since he was taken into custody two months ago and had been the target of extreme bullying.

"He has spent many, if not most days, in solitary confinement protected from those that have been physically assaulting him and those that have attempted to extort him and his family," Mr Jones said.

"He arrived here in court today to be met by a prisoner downstairs who was calling him a dog."

Judge Nathan Jarro noted Groundwater's previous good character, lack of criminal history and prison experience but said his offending was "predatory".

"You violated a six-year-old child who was entitled to be cared for safely in her own home," he said.

"It was very blatant offending. You were in a position of trust, you exploited that trust."

Groundwater was sentenced to three and a half years' jail, to be suspended after 20 months.

-NewsRegional

*For 24/7 sexual assault or domestic violence support phone the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732. Mensline is on 1800 600 636.

News Corp Australia


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