Man charged with sexual assault on 11-year-old decades later

A MAN has pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting his 11-year-old neighbour.

The offences occurred in central Queensland between January 1986 and July 1988.

The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, would regularly masturbate in his own backyard while in full view of the girl and looking in her direction, the District Court in Mackay was told.

She was asked why she referred to her neighbour as a "dirty old man", so she pointed out his behaviour to her mother's friend.

However, when the girl's mother found out, it was the victim who bore the brunt of her mother's anger, the court was told.

On one occasion the girl was told to return books to her neighbour.

Once inside his house he touched her genitals and breasts outside her clothing while masturbating, Crown prosecutor Brendan Manttan said.

Now aged 76, the man pleaded guilty to committing an indecent act and the indecent treatment of a child under 14.

Judge Julie Dick described his actions as "demeaning".

Judge Dick said it wasn't uncommon for elderly perpetrators to come before the courts decades after the actual offending occurred.

"You indulged yourself at the time and now it's time to pay the price," she said.

Barrister Bronwyn Hartigan argued that her client's situation could be deemed "exceptional" and while he should be jailed, he didn't need to serve actual time in prison.

The man's daughter died in 1983 and he went through a marriage breakdown.

He began drinking heavily.

The man was no longer at risk of reoffending and was suffering dementia, she said.

Judge Dick said the man would serve some actual time.

He was jailed for 15 months to be released after three months.

The remaining 12 months will be suspended for two years.

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