Man jailed for sex acts with girls aged 6 and 9

David Andrew Roper leaving Bendigo County Court. Picture: JIM ALDERSEY
David Andrew Roper leaving Bendigo County Court. Picture: JIM ALDERSEY

A MAN who performed sex acts on a two girls aged six and nine has been jailed for seven years.

David Andrew Roper, 35, of Echuca, pleaded guilty in Bendigo County Court yesterday to four counts of sexual penetration of a child under 16.

Two charges relate to a spate of offending between November and December 2001 where Roper, then 22, performed sex acts on the six-year-old on up to 25 occasions.

The remaining charges involved sex acts with a nine-year-old girl in September last year. The court was told Roper sent a text message to the first victim last year, confessing his crimes and told his family what he'd done.

It heard the girl had no memory of the sexual assaults.  The girl, now an adult, and family members of the second victim were in court today to see Roper sentenced. Their victim impact statements were tendered to court, but not read aloud at their request.

The prosecution summary of the offending was also not read onto the court record after Judge Jane Patrick expressed concern about the level of detail it contained.

The court heard just prior to the commencement of offending in 2001, Roper received a good behaviour bond in the Magistrates Court for indecently assaulting a young girl in Shepparton. 

In February this year, after being charged by police, Roper asked for his bail to be revoked because he was worried he would not be able to comply with his bail conditions.

The Bendigo Advertiser reported he was struggling to find accommodation and had had to abandon plans to move into an Eaglehawk property after it was discovered the neighbouring house was leased to a mother and young child.

During today's plea hearing, barrister Moya O'Brien told the court her client was repulsed by his behaviour, had reported himself to police and had not tried to minimise his actions.

She said her client suffered from mental health issues, including depression and Aspergers, but said he was a high-functioning individual who understood his behaviour was wrong and could not hide behind the diagnosis.

Ms O'Brien argued Roper's inability to exercise self-control over his predilection for young girls at times of heightened psychological stress should warrant some moderation of sentence.

She tendered a psychological report which assessed Roper as having moderate prospects of rehabilitation if he had access to appropriate behavioural programs.

In sentencing, Judge Jane Patrick condemned Roper's behaviour as gross and intolerable.

She said he had exploited the vulnerability of two children to gratify his own perverted sexual desires.

But Judge Patrick said she accepted his mental health issues meant his moral culpability was reduced.

She sentenced Roper to seven years in jail and ordered he serve five years before being eligible for parole.

Had he not pleaded guilty, Judge Patrick said she would have jailed him for nine years and six months with a non parole period of seven years.