A MAN who sexually assaulted his young step-daughter over a two-and-a-half year period has been sent to jail.
The man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the victim, pleaded guilty in Bundaberg District Court yesterday to eight charges of indecent treatment of a child under 16.
Prosecutor Sam Bain told the court the offences occurred between March 2009 and September last year, when the child - aged between seven and nine at the time - would stay with her mother and step-father for one week each school holidays.
Mr Bain said during six separate incidents the man put his hands down his step-daughter's pants and touched her genitals.
He was also accused of exposing his penis to her.
Defence barrister Eoin Mac Giolla Ricorrect said after the final assault, the man brought the little girl to her mum because she was crying.
He said the man did this knowing a complaint was "imminent".
"There has been remorse shown by his confessions and immediately bringing the child to its mother," he said.
"It's not a case where there were threats."
Mr Mac Giolla Ri said even though the man had spent 382 days in pre-sentence custody, he was unable to get sex offender counselling because he had not been convicted.
"It's quite a long time without having counselling for his issues," he said.
Judge Leanne Clare said the offences were the "ultimate betrayal" of an innocent girl.
"It seems clear that she regarded you affectionately - she showed you affection," she said.
"You exploited those opportunities because these offences were committed when (the girl) has climbed into your bed (or) sat on your lap."
Judge Clare said the man's guilty plea came before the victim was to be cross-examined.
"It's something that needs to be reflected in the sentence to encourage such co-operation with other people who commit these offences," she said.
"While I have some sympathy for your situation, the offences themselves are serious and terrible.
"You represent a danger to children who may find themselves alone with you."
The man was sentenced to three-and-a-half years imprisonment for the offences.
"I am really remorseful for my actions," he told Judge Clare.
The man will be eligible for parole in February next year.
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