Man guilty of sex offences against underage girl with whom he later had children

Friday, 01 December 2017, 12:49:51 PM. A Canberra man is found guilty of sexual offences against an underaged girl with whom he later had four children.

A Canberra man has been found guilty of committing two sexual offences against an underaged girl with whom he later had four children.

The 58-year-old was found guilty of two counts of sexual assault, but cleared of five other charges including acts of indecency.

The two charges upheld relate to events in 2000 and 2001 when the girl first fell pregnant to him at about the age of 15.

He had argued he believed the girl was 17 when he first met her, when she was actually underaged.

The man's barrister Katrina Musgrove told the jury he had a legitimate defence if he believed on reasonable grounds that the now-32-year-old woman was older than 16 and consenting.

But prosecutor Emilija Beljic urged the jury to believe the woman's account that she was 14 when the relationship started.

She told the court the man would compliment her and offer to look after her, and told her he wanted a relationship.

The woman said she told him during their second encounter that she was 14, and he had said he thought she was 16 or 17 but that it was alright.

"He laid the groundwork by flattering her and offering to look after her," Ms Beljic said.

"It made her easy to steer into a sexual relationship."

The pair went on to have four children together, one of them conceived when the woman was underage.

The man's barrister, Katrina Musgrove, argued the jury should consider the man's background as a political refugee from Central America.

She described how the man had been kidnapped with his wife, who was abused by a group of men in front of him.

She said he had been thrown from a truck and shot in the stomach before being brought to Australia, where it took months of rehabilitation for him to walk again.

Against that backdrop and his cultural differences, Ms Musgrove said it was plausible that he had difficulty recognising just how young the girl was.

The man was granted strict bail, and will return to court in February for sentencing proceedings.

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