Rae Wilson

Re-trial for aged man convicted of molesting granddaughter

AN 85-year-old man, convicted after trial of molesting his granddaughter while she visited him on school holidays, has been granted a re-trial.

The girl, aged between eight and 15 at the time of the alleged offences, testified her Coolum grandfather had sexually abused her at Coolum or at Tin Can Bay during the 1990s.

She also alleged her grandfather, who was aged 63 to 70 at the time, molested her while playing Monopoly or video games during his visits to Bowen where she lived with her parents.

The man accepted the girl's family came to stay with them for Christmas at Coolum in 1994, with 16 or 18 family members, but claimed he had been impotent since an operation in 1991 and the offences did not happen.

The jury - on August 23, 2013 - convicted the man of maintaining a sexual relationship with the girl, three indecent assaults, indecently treating the girl and rape.

But they found him not guilty on six other offences.

The man - who was sentenced to eight years jail - successfully appealed the guilty verdicts in the Queensland Court of Appeal.

He argued the verdicts were unreasonable and inconsistent with the acquittals, and that the trial judge erred in failing to adequately instruct the jury about a recorded phone call.

The man said while he did admit to sexual conduct in that call, he was referring to incidents when she was an adult, not a girl.

The Court of Appeal, in a written judgment, set aside all convictions - acquitting the man on three charges and ordering a re-trial for the maintaining a relationship charge and the two Sunshine Coast related charges.

Justice David Boddice said there was no logical or reasonable explanation for the combination of guilty and not guilty verdicts in this case.

Justice Duncan McMeekin said given the woman was aged 29 at trial and the offences happened about two decades prior, it was "hardly surprising" there was imprecision in her evidence.

"Given the state of the evidence the only proper inference that can be drawn from the verdicts given by the jury, some guilty and some not guilty, is that the jury entertained a reasonable doubt about the timing of the events about which complaint was made and so whether the acts complained of took place in the period averred in the indictment," he said.



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