Court delay causes victim stress

FORMER Grafton headmaster Frank Bailey will not be sentenced on sex charges for at least another two months after court proceedings were postponed yesterday.

Bailey, the former principal of St Andrew's Christian College in Clarenza, has pleaded guilty to five counts of sexual intercourse with a 16-year-old under his care.

Sentencing was scheduled to begin in Grafton District Court yesterday, but was adjourned so Bailey's legal counsel had more time to prepare.

Crown prosecutor Peter Woods opposed the adjournment, telling the court it would put the female victim under emotional duress.

He described the 17-year-old victim as being 'particularly vulnerable for someone of that age'.

Mr Woods said he had seen the teenager that morning and she appeared 'very distressed' at the thought of facing Bailey in court.

The teenager was yesterday scheduled to read her victim impact statement to the court. It will be the only time she will have to make a submission on the matter.

Mr Woods appealed to the court to deal with the matter expeditiously, saying the victim wanted to have the matter finalised so she could move on with her life.

Bailey's legal counsel Thomas Feerick was not in court yesterday. Grafton solicitor Neil Johnson appeared on his behalf.

Mr Johnson said Mr Feerick understood the matter was scheduled for arraignment and had not expected the matter to progress yesterday to sentencing.

Mr Johnson said the defence intended to call eight people to make submissions at the sentencing, none of whom were based in Grafton. They included medical specialists and a psychologist.

Mr Johnson said Mr Feerick had not yet received a copy of the victim impact statement, and it was also in the best interests of his client for him to be present when it was submitted to the court.

He requested the matter be adjourned for at least six weeks to allow the defence time to prepare for the sentencing hearing.

Bailey, 43, faces a maximum term of imprisonment of eight years. He has been in custody in Sydney for the past 10 months.

He was called twice to the dock yesterday. Both times he sat quietly with his head down, his right arm bandaged and shaking as he rocked his body back and forth.

When he eventually looked up for the briefest moment, he had dark shadows under his eyes and a graze on his left cheek.

Bailey was scheduled to be sentenced at the next District Court sitting in Grafton starting May 18. A conference will be held on May 6 to determine if it is ready to go ahead. Otherwise, it will be held over to August.

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