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Police questioning of sexual abuse victim under scrutiny

THE way Rockhampton police questioned a little girl who had been orally raped came under fire in the Court of Appeal on Friday.

The 56-year-old man is appealing his rape conviction, arguing the verdict was unsafe or unreasonable and questioning whether the four-year-old girl was capable of giving quality evidence.

Barrister Paul Smith, acting for the man, told the Court of Appeal he believed a judge examining the latter should have given more attention to whether the girl understood how important it was to tell the truth under oath in a court.

He also focused on the girl's recorded police interview and the way police questioned her.

Court of Appeal Justice Cate Holmes said the girl did give the impression the incident was "not such an appalling event for her", that it was the adults who made it a "big deal for her".

Crown prosecutor Sal Vasta agreed and said the police questioning the girl for almost an hour, in the way they did, was far too long.

But he said a jury could easily be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt the rape occurred.

"You can see the frustration in the police and in the complainant when she is being questioned (in the police interview)," he said.

"It's almost as if the answers she gives are not good enough.

"The eyes get wider and the mouth changes shape, eyes flitting around the place.

"It didn't distress her.

"The way she told her parents was matter of fact, her lips being sore and this is what pa did."

The man is accused of raping the girl in South Rockhampton on September 29, 2009.

He was sentenced to three years and six months jail, with parole eligibility in August 2013, after a trial.

Justice Holmes said she was concerned about the girl undergoing any further questioning in the court and having to bring the incident to her mind again.

The Court of Appeal has reserved its decision.

Topics:  court of appeal, crime, oral rape, police, rockhampton, sexual abuse


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