News

Man jailed for 2012 sexual abuse

By Riverine Herald

AN ECHUCA man has been jailed for two years after sexually abusing a teenage girl and taking her virginity.

Stephen Norman, 23, was sentenced in Bendigo County Court last Thursday after pleading guilty to sexual penetration of a child under 16.

Norman was 17 at the time of the attack which occurred on December 1, 2012, at Norman’s parents’ farmhouse outside Echuca.

After plying the 14-year-old victim and her girlfriend with alcohol and cigarettes, Norman and his friend drove the girls back to the farmhouse on the promise of more alcohol.

Judge Douglas Trapnell said after drinking more alcohol, Norman undressed the victim in his bedroom and lay her on his bed before putting a condom on and asking her ‘‘are you ready to lose your virginity?’’

The victim stated: ‘‘No. I want to stay a virgin’’.

The court heard Norman then penetrated the girl and said, ‘‘Too bad, now you’re not’’.

He continued to penetrate her and asked her to perform oral sex on him which she refused.

The victim said she ‘‘just laid there’’.

‘‘She said she wanted to kill herself and that she felt dirty, she was ashamed and just wanted to go home,’’ Judge Trapnell said.

The victim made a statement to police on November 21, 2017, before Norman was interviewed last year.

Judge Trapnell said the matter was due to go to a contested committal hearing before the informant found out about a phone call between Norman and his mother the night before.

‘‘Your mother said, ‘Do your lawyers know you actually did it?’ to which you replied ‘they know but they can’t go against me’,’’ he said.

The discussion was relayed to Police Prosecutions and defence counsel and after meeting with his lawyers, Norman pleaded guilty.

Judge Trapnell said the victim impact statement indicated Norman’s actions had ‘‘a devastating effect’’ on her.

He said she had suffered severe and ongoing psychological issues and changed from a ‘‘happy person to one who is sad and angry’’.

‘‘It affected her relationship with her mother and made her feel unsafe in her own home,’’ he said.

‘‘She suffers from depression and has, on occasion, been suicidal. As a result of her suicide attempt, she has scars which are a constant reminder of what you did to her.’’

‘‘I still live with the impact. I can’t be touched without wanting to cry sometimes,’’ the victim wrote.

‘‘I live with broken relationships and scars. I still get scared to be around males alone.

‘‘That night ruined me and no matter how hard I try, I’ll never be able to forget that night.’’

Judge Trapnell assessed Norman’s moral culpability as high.

‘‘This is another example of the extreme trauma suffered by the victims of sexual abuse. For a few minutes of sexual gratification you’ve completely destroyed this young woman’s life,’’ he said.

The youngest of seven children, Norman was raised by his mother after his parents separated when he was in grade 5.

Judge Trapnell said Norman had a history of drug and alcohol abuse in late teens and early 20s, leading to subsequent dishonesty and violence offences.

He said Norman’s convictions since the attack indicated an attitude of ‘‘disrespect for women and an inability to recognise an act upon their resistance to your sexual advances’’.

In sentencing, Judge Trapnell took into account the insufficient evidence of true remorse, as well as the delay which denied the more ‘‘benevolent’’ sentencing regime of the Children’s Court and the positive steps Norman had taken towards rehabilitation while in custody.

Norman was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment, with one-year cumulative on a four-and-a-half year sentence he is already serving.

The new sentence extends Norman’s non-parole period by eight months, so he will be eligible for parole in May next year.

When Norman is released from prison, he will be registered as a sex offender for seven-and-a-half years due somewhat to his ‘‘demonstrated attitude toward young women’’.

■If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault or domestic violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800737732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au