Man denied bail after fleeing historic child sex charge
A MAN charged with failing to appear and interfering with a witness - in relation to an alleged historical child sex offence - applied for bail before Kingaroy Magistrates Court this afternoon (August 28).
The defendant, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was originally due to appear before court on July 15, 2019 to face allegations of grooming a 12-year-old victim, but instead fled the jurisdiction travelling first to South Australia and then New Zealand.
According the police prosecutor Sergeant Barry Stevens, the alleged crime occurred back in 2007 when the victim was 12 and the defendant was 30. The defendant was a friend of the victim's father and police allege the child was groomed.
"The allegation is she was groomed by the use of telephone, and a series of sexual acts occurred, with him picking her up from the house and various locations," Sergeant Stevens said.
The alleged acts took place between Brisbane and Toowoomba.
The first allegation was made in 2011, when the victim was 16, and revoked by the end of the year. It was reopened in 2017 and the defendant charged in 2019, triggering his escape.
Upon returning to Queensland, Sergeant Stevens said the defendant was only found by police after changing the address on his drivers license.
According to defence lawyer W.S. Brown, Alroe Somers & O'Sullivan Solicitors, the defendant's choice to flee the jurisdiction can be attributed to his mental health.
When the allegations resurfaced, Mr Brown said the defendant believed he had two options - to commit suicide or leave the state.
The second charge of interfering with a witness relates to the victim living with the defendant.
During the proceedings, the court was received a letter from the victim via email. She claims to have been in contact with the Department of Public Prosecutions (DPP), in an attempt to get the charges dropped.
Despite the currently 'weak' case presented by the Crown, due the 13 year gap between the offence occurring and charges being laid, Magistrate Sinclair said he had no choice but to deny bail.
"The problem for the defendant is that he absconded from the jurisdiction in the past," Magistrate Sinclair said.
"Defendants seem to think they have some control about when, or if, they appear in a court. The answer is that they don't. They must appear at the precise minute and precise date they are supposed to, or they put themselves at risk of losing the privilege of bail."
"And that's exactly what has happened here. (The defendant) has removed himself from the jurisdiction and decided that he doesn't wish to face punishment."
"Defendants are not entitled to leave the jurisdiction and then expect the jurisdiction to grant them bail."
The defendant has been refused bail and another mention scheduled for September 8.