NEWS

Grandfather who molested five-year-old grandson avoids jail over fears he might get coronavirus

He argued imprisonment meant he faced the possibility of death

A grandfather who sexually abused his five-year-old grandson will avoid jail due to fears he could get coronavirus. 

The Sydney Morning Herald reported how the 76-year-old man, known as RC to protect the victim, was initially sentenced at the New South Wales District Court last July. 

He was convicted of twice digitally penetrating his grandson’s bottom the day before his sixth birthday. 

At the time, RC, a former public servant and trained priest, received an 18-month community order for sexual intercourse with a child under 10 years. 

But this week, the Court of Criminal Appeal found the sentence imposed by Justice Justin Smith SC was ‘manifestly inadequate.’ 

‘It is so far below the range of sentences that could be justly imposed for an offence of this nature that it could tend to undermine public confidence in the proper administration of criminal justice in the sentencing of offenders for the commission of serious sexual assaults upon very young children,’ Justice Helen Wilson said. 

Justice Wilson said only full-time imprisonment would not be imposed in ‘extraordinary and unusual circumstances.’ 

She added, ‘There were no extraordinary or unusual circumstances in the respondent’s case.’ 

Justice Wilson believed an appropriate sentence would be three years in jail with a non-parole period of one year. 

But as RC suffers from bronchiectasis, systemic hypertension and kidney disease he is ‘particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 infection and mortality,’ according to an affidavit from his doctor. 

RC said in court he ‘is at greater risk of contracting COVID-19 than other prisoners if he is committed to the prison system, and faces the prospect if infected of a very poor outcome, including the possibility of death.’ 

Because of RC’s fear of contracting coronavirus, it meant he wasn’t given a custodial sentence, despite the fact the Court of Criminal Appeal believed it was more appropriate than his initial sentence.

Justice Peter Hamill said, ‘The purpose of such appeals would not be advanced in any meaningful way by sending this 76-year-old man with respiratory problems and other health issues to jail for a minimum period of 12 months during the currency of the COVID-19 pandemic.’ 

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