A man has been charged with historic child sexual assault. Picture: iStock.
A man has been charged with historic child sexual assault. Picture: iStock.

Farmer accused of ‘manipulative, planned’ child sex offences

A NORTHERN rivers man accused of "manipulative" historic child sex offences near Lismore has been granted bail.

The 60-year-old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, appeared via video link in Lismore Local Court on Tuesday.

He was arrested on Thursday at a home near Lismore, following a police investigation into allegations a woman was sexually abused as a child by the man, who was known to her.

Police also seized electronic storage devices during their search.

Police will allege during the course of the investigation, officers received information four further children were also sexually abused.

Police claim the man sexually abused five girls - aged between two and nine - between 1989 and 2005.

He was charged with 16 offences including eight counts of aggravated sex assault on a victim under the age of 16 years, five counts of sexual intercourse with person under the age of 10, assault and commit act of indecency, indecent assault of a person under 16 under authority, and aggravated indecent assault of a victim under the age of 16.

The man's solicitor, Vince Boss, applied for bail on his client's behalf on Tuesday.

Mr Boss said his client was a local farmer who was the only person capable of doing the administration work for his business.

Mr Boss said the man's mother and father relied on his care, as do the animals he cares for and if he wasn't released the farm would be put in "jeopardy".

"(He has) no history of violence, no history of such like offences, no history of noncompliance," Mr Boss said.

"The last alleged offence is some 20 years ago, these are matters of a historical nature.

"These are matters when your honour reads the facts of (a certain) incident …. there was an investigation by officers in 1987 and 1988 to which there were no charges laid.

"It is not what I call a strong case, there can be very tight bail conditions."

But the NSW Police Prosecutor said the case against the accused was "very strong" despite the 20 year gap since the alleged offences.

"In light of a number of people coming forward … there were letters written making (admissions)," he said.

"Within the facts, (there are) admissions made to other people when the defendant was confronted about this type of behaviour."

The police prosecutor said officers also found "pictures of the complainants and other children" at the man's home which suggests he kept those images "as souvenirs" and his actions were a "manipulative" and a "planned activity".

He said the man, if convicted, would be expected to serve a lengthy time in custody, and if the Director of Public Prosecutions decided to take over the case he could be facing life imprisonment.

But Mr Boss said the case seemed suspicious against his client.

"What is not explained is how all these people seem to be going to the police at the same time," Mr Boss said.

"He has had no contact with the complainants in 20 years."

Magistrate Jeff Linden granted the man's bail on the condition he does not contact the prosecution witnesses or alleged victims, is not in the company of a child under the age of 16, and does not enter an international airport or leave NSW for any reason.

Magistrate Linden also ordered the man must enter into a bail security agreement to forfeit $100,000 if he fails to appear when required at court.

The matters were adjourned to November 25 at Lismore Local Court, where the man is not required to attend if legally represented.

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