Grandfather avoids jail after molesting child
A FRAIL 80-year-old man has avoided going to jail after molesting his young granddaughter in a case that has ripped a Tasmanian family apart.
The man, who relies on a mobility frame after a fall last year that rendered his right leg "completely numb", was given a nine-month prison sentence on Wednesday in the Hobart Magistrates Court - but the term was fully suspended given his age and health.
The octogenarian, who cannot be named for legal reasons, forced his 10-year-old granddaughter to touch his genitals as she tried to resist during 2014, Magistrate Glenn Hay said while sentencing.
Then in 2015 or 2016, the man touched the child's breasts at a family gathering.
"She tried to pull away but you would not let her go," Mr Hay said.
The same day, the man again assaulted the child by touching her genitals and breasts in her bed, attempting to get under her blankets.
"You went to her room and laid down beside her. She resisted," Mr Hay said.
"She pushed your hand away and told you not to touch her."
Mr Hay said the court had found the man guilty of three counts of indecent assault following a hearing last year after he denied the charges, forcing the child to give evidence.
He said the girl was "subject to searching cross-examination" during which it was "alleged to her that she was making up the allegations".
Mr Hay said the now teenaged girl felt "uncomfortable about being hugged by any person".
"She is withdrawn, she is scared of older men. She no longer regards you as her grandfather," he said.
"Her relationship with her other grandfather has also been detrimentally affected."
Mr Hay noted the man was supported in court by three of his daughters, but that the family had been affected.
"(The girl) is particularly worried about some of her extended family members not believing her … they blame her and her mother for breaking up the family," he said.
In a statement read to the court by a prosecutor before sentencing, the girl said she was scared to go to sleep after the assaults.
"I felt I had to barricade myself at night, and sometimes I did," she said.
"I don't want to tell people what my grandfather did."
Mr Hay said a custodial sentence would normally be appropriate, but noted the man - who turns 81 next week - had previously suffered a heart attack, a major stroke, had been diagnosed with mild leukaemia and had fallen last year after the court hearing - making prison more onerous.
He ordered the nine-month prison sentence be suspended on the condition the man not commit any offences punishable by imprisonment within the next three years.
Mr Hay also put the man on the sex offenders' register for three years.