News

Man faces historic sexual assault charges

By Liz Mellino

A man has been denied bail after facing court in relation to historic sexual assault charges dating back more than 40 years.

The man, 77, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is alleged to have sexually assaulted young girls, including his granddaughter, while in Shepparton, Mooroopna, Tatura, Seymour, Ararat and Moreland, with the alleged acts dating as far back as 1976.

Police allege the most recent incident occurred in March this year.

The man faced Shepparton Magistrates’ Court on Friday where he represented himself during the bail application, telling the court "it's quite obvious I have been set up" and that the police were "into fantasy stories".

The court was told the man, who was arrested on Thursday last week after a number of victims reported the offending the weekend prior, is facing 17 charges including unlawful and indecent assault, sexual penetration of a child and committing an indecent act with a child.

Police allege one of the incidents in Shepparton occurred in the car park of the Shepparton greyhound racing track sometime in 1985 or 1986.

The court heard the man's seven victims, which included his granddaughter who was aged between eight and nine at the time, were all known to him.

Police allege the man groomed the children, telling them not to tell their parents about the illegal acts.

The court heard the man denied the allegations during his record of interview however he admitted to having sexual intercourse with a 15-year-old girl.

Seymour SOCIT Detective Leading Senior Constable Andrena Taylor told the court the man had an extensive criminal history including charges of assault, burglary, theft, manslaughter, assault against police and cultivating drugs.

The court heard he also had two prior convictions for carnal knowledge of a child.

Det Ldg Sen Const Taylor said she believed no conditions of bail imposed could alleviate the risk the man posed, saying the alleged "serious" offending made him a risk to any child in the community that he may come into contact with.

“He has shown a disregard to victims over a long period of time, I don’t feel he has any remorse for his actions and he has shown a pattern of behaviour over a great many years,” she said.

“The four younger victims of the more recent offending are quite fearful of him — especially those who live in the same community as him . . . they are quite fearful of what may happen if he is released.”

When pleading his case the man argued he was "no risk whatsoever".

He said he deserved to be bailed for two reasons: the fact he was not guilty and he had very bad health.

The court heard the man is a type two diabetic, had suffered a heart attack, has emphysema and a hematoma on his leg.

“I think I'm entitled to bail, I have done nothing wrong,” he said.

“I knew about this three weeks ago and I said I have nothing to hide, I'm not running anywhere . . . eventually we will see who wins and who loses.”

Magistrate Peter Mithen denied the man's release, saying he did not believe there were conditions that could be imposed to make his bail "acceptable" at this stage.

Mr Mithen informed the accused he was eligible to apply for bail again with legal representation.

The man is expected to face court again in August.

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