Why a step-dad who abused a little girl won't go to jail

A SUNSHINE Coast man who abused his five-year-old step-daughter more than 20 years ago won't spend time in jail.

Instead, the 65-year-old man who pleaded guilty to abusing the girl in 1984 and 1986, received two suspended sentences -- one for six months and another for nine months, to be served concurrently -- in the Maroochydore District Court, with an operational period of two years.

But if the same crime were to happen today, it is most likely the offender would spend time behind bars.

The Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 requires a jail sentence unless exceptional circumstances can be found.

Crown Prosecutor Alex Stark tried to argue the Youth Justice and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2016, which only came into effect in July, would allow this ruling to be applied retrospectively.

Judge Gary Long handed down his reasons for not accepting the prosecution's submission that the retrospective rule should apply on September 27.

He detailed the case, which showed the man woke the girl when she was only five years old by "getting into bed with her".

He then "took her right hand and put it on his erect penis" and told her she could touch it, but she moved away.

The next offence occurred two years later, when the girl was eight.

He again entered the girl's room "kissed her with an open mouth" and "placed his tongue in her mouth".

"You also rubbed your erect penis against her leg and took her hand and moved it towards your penis and asked her to play with it, but she did not make contact with it," the court documents read.

The offending had an "emotional impact" on the victim, which she carried into her adult life and led to the complaint.

Judge Long noted the man's guilty pleas and his medical history which include medication for heart disease and back pain and bowel surgery.

He said it was common ground that "the maximum penalty that applies to each of your offences is seven years imprisonment".

However, he said the man was being sentenced at a time in the community where there was more "acute awareness and understanding of both the prevalence and impact of victims of this type of offending against vulnerable children".

But he had ruled the s240 of the Penalties and Sentence Act, which required a term of imprisonment, was not applicable to his situation.

Judge Long said having regard to the "relatively low level of (his) offending" particular emphasis was placed on his present circumstances and the passage of time since the offending with out any repetition of similar re-offending.

He argued, given there was no history of re-offending, it could be concluded that the man presented no risk of re-offending and "in that sense, are rehabilitated".

With these considerations in mind, Judge Long gave a sentence he argued achieved a "necessary reflection of appropriate punishment and denunciation" of offending as well as the need for "general deterrence".

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