A HORSHAM judge has demanded answers about why it took police six years to charge a man for sexual acts with a child, despite his victims coming forward in 2007.
Murtoa’s David John Tones, 50, faced Horsham County Court on Wednesday.
He will now spend at least five years in jail after a jury found him guilty of 12 sexual offences against two teenage girls.
The girls were aged between 13 and 15 at the time of the offending.
Judge Mark Taft said both victims provided statements to police on November 15, 2007.
“Those statements contained allegations of serious sexual misconduct,” he said.
Mr Taft said Tones was interviewed at a Wimmera police station on December 19, 2007.
“For reasons that entirely elude me, you were not charged until December 2013,” he said.
“It is appropriate that police provide proper reasons for that delay, which has caused great distress to each victim.”
Tones was found guilty of sexual penetration of a child under 16, indecent acts with a child under 16, and oral penetration of a child under 16.
The court heard the incidents happened between January 2005 and November 2007.
Tones touched one teenage girl, aged 13 at the time, inappropriately while she was staying at his house.
The other victim, referred to in court as C, had an ongoing sexual relationship with Tones from March 2007 to November 2007 when she was aged between 14 and 15 and he was 41.
The court heard the offending started on March 9, 2007, when C went to Tones’s house after a party and he kissed her on the mouth and breasts.
“On another occasion between March and November 2007, you arranged to meet C late at night,” Mr Taft said.
“She snuck out of her house when everyone else was sleeping and you drove to a friend’s house in Horsham, which was unoccupied.
“Over the next hour or so, you engaged in various sexual activities with C.”
The court heard Tones first had sex with C in May 2007, after he drove her to a vacant paddock area and the pair had intercourse in the car.
Mr Taft said on another occasion, Tones and C met after a party at Murtoa and went to a nearby oval grandstand and had oral sex.
Victim impact statements from both women, now in their 20s, were heard in court.
The first victim said Tones violated her trust and now she was unable to trust men.
“I felt as though men liked women for sexual pleasure only,” she said.
“Due to not trusting anyone, I felt I couldn’t talk to anyone about the assault and I spiralled down a path of depression, anxiety, food disorders and attempted suicide several times.”
The victim said having to wait nine years for the case to go to court made her angry and she had lost faith in justice.
In C’s impact statement, she said she felt torn apart by the relationship.
“He would tell me how much he loved me, I would reciprocate and then he would explore my body,” she said.“Part of me felt guilty, part of me felt loved.
“I did what he asked of me and snuck out at night when he wanted me to.”
C said she remembered going to the doctor for the contraceptive pill.
“I remember how alone I felt, as I realised the first time I’d got the prescription for the pill was to continue having sex with a 42-year-old man and not any of the boys in my class. I was 15.
“I am now constantly aware of how much a single person can destroy your future if you make yourself vulnerable to them.”
C said after the offending ended she became isolated and relied on alcohol and self-harming to to desensitise herself.
Mr Taft said it was abundantly clear that Tones’ offending of both victims had been extensive and prolonged.
“You took advantage of two school girls who were aged between 13 and 15 for your own sexual gratification,” he said.
“You were a mature-aged man, more than 25 years older than the victims.
“Between 2005 and 2007 you sexually exploited those girls without a skerrick of consideration for their age and vulnerability.”
Mr Taft said Tones had struggled with substance abuse issues for most of his life.
He sentenced Tones to seven years and seven months in jail, with a non-parole period of five years and three months.
Tones has already served 120 days.