A Bendigo man who stalked his former partner after police found he filmed her five-year-old daughter in the bath has sought to deflect blame for his offending onto his dead housemate.
The man, 36, who cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty in the Bendigo Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday to manufacturing indecent images of a child under the age of 18, along with stalking and other offences.
The court heard the man was left to look after the five-year-old girl and after assisting her to undress for a bath, instructed the child to duck her head under the water. He then covertly filmed the girl on his mobile phone for about 20 minutes.
Police discovered the video file and three printed still images taken from it in a raid on the man’s Bendigo home, where he moved after the relationship with the victim’s mother broke down.
Following the raid, the man began to stalk the mother of his victim, insisting she speak with him, including attempting to contact her 228 times via mobile phone on one day.
Defence council Robert Timms told the court his client realised the damage done to the relationship and was “desperately trying contact her to try to explain”.
The court heard the man sent a further 38 internet messages to his former partner after she blocked his two mobile phone numbers.
In a victim impact statement read to the court, the man’s former partner said the experience had “mentally destroyed” the lives of she and her daughter, who now refers to the man as “the devil”.
“I am scared if my daughter goes out of my sight,” she said.
Mr Timms said his client felt “obligated” to make the recording because of pressure from his then housemate, who was the primary target of the raid for possessing thousands of child exploitation images.
The court heard the man feared his housemate, who along with the accused was a daily methamphetamine user and has since taken his own life, would expose his drug use if he did not follow his instructions.
But police prosecutor Cherree Blair argued any suggestion of pressure from the housemate was “completely defunct” as the accused moved into the house several months after the film was produced.
The court also heard the thousands of images found in the man’s housemate’s possession were of a different nature to those produced by the accused, in that they exclusively involved the sexual exploitation of young boys and were of a higher category of offending.
Mr Timms told the court his client had known the other man for some time prior to moving into the house and the pair had a “sexual encounter” during that time.
Magistrate David Faram expressed his concern this information was withheld from a forensic psychiatrist who assessed the man’s risk of reoffending and reserved his sentencing decision until a new psychiatric report could be produced.
He will return to court for sentencing on November 29.