“EVERYBODY’S going to know about it,” a magistrate told the Hamilton pensioner who was brought to justice for sexually assaulting an eight-year-old girl more than two decades ago.
Ernest Lawrence Mann, 79, this week pleaded guilty in Hamilton Magistrate’s Court to three separate counts of indecent assault, dating back to 1985.
Magistrate Peter Mellas said the offending was “very grave”, adding that it warranted “the most serious penalty the law can put in place”.
However the magistrate did not order an immediate term of imprisonment, citing Mann’s early guilty plea, age, health issues and the stigma that would arise from his convictions as reasons for suspending the term.
“We’re in a small community,” Mr Mellas said.
“I’ve got no doubt that everybody in the district is going to know.
“You’re not in Melbourne; you can’t just disappear.”
A SERIOUS BREACH OF TRUST
Police prosecutor, Sergeant Sandra Skilton told the court that Mann was a former friend of the victim’s parents.
Mann first met the victim’s mother in the 1960s and later became friends with her husband.
Although the victim has no clear recollection of first meeting Mann, she remembers him giving her gifts, including a Rubik’s cube and a fishing rod.
At the time of the offending, between 1985 and 1988, the accused was visiting the family two to three times a week.
The victim was between eight and 11 years old, while Mann was between 50 and 54.
The accused took the young girl fishing and shooting and the pair would often take walks on the farm alone.
The victim told police that Mann assaulted her “almost every time” he came to visit but could only recall three separate incidents in some detail.
Full story in the Spectator on Saturday, January 11, 2014