Court rules child molestation 'indecent treatment', not rape

A MAN has been found guilty of molesting his former partner's six-year-old daughter in 2003.

After a long deliberation, a jury in the District Court in Mackay found the man guilty yesterday.

Following four hours of deliberation, the jury was hung and received direction from Judge David Searles.

Later in the day the jury had still not come to a unanimous decision, and requested to re-hear evidence.

Crown prosecutor Matthew Hynes and defence barrister Bronwyn Hartigan read the transcripts of the testimony and cross- examination of the victim, as they had been heard on the witness stand in days prior.

On hearing the evidence the jury deliberated further, and was still hung.

Judge Searles instructed the jury could make a verdict as a majority rather than unanimously.

He said the majority had to be 11 to one.

At 3pm yesterday, the jury came to a majority verdict.

The man's face remained expressionless as the jury speaker announced the verdict - not guilty of the charge of rape.

Instead, the jury found him guilty of the lesser charge of indecent treatment of a child under 16.

During the trial, the jury had heard that the man had been in a relationship with the victim's mother between 2002 and 2003.

Jurors heard the victim give her testimony in person, and her parents corroborated the story with verbal evidence.

The man found guilty of indecent treatment did not provide evidence during the trial.

He is now in custody.

Judge Searles is expected to deliver a sentence today via videolink.

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