Man jailed for using a gun to coerce a child into sexual acts in a ‘frightening’ crime in country Victoria

A MAN brandished a rifle and threatened to shoot a child’s mother and sibling while they were asleep unless the child allowed him to perform sexual acts on her, a court has heard.

The offending of Steven Mark Darby, 52, was described by a County Court judge as “perverted”, “frightening” and a “dreadful abuse of power”.

Darby was sentenced in the County Court in Melbourne this week to seven counts of committing an indecent act with a child under 16, two counts of sexual penetration of a child under 16 under his care, and one count of making a threat to kill.

The court heard Darby’s offended against two girls, in a country Victorian town, starting when one of the girls was in her pre-teenage years.

After one of the girls resisted him on a number of occasions, Darby brought a .22 calibre rifle into a house, showed the girl it was loaded, and took the gun to her mother’s bedroom and held the barrel close to her head while she slept.

He then told the girl he would kill her mother if anyone found about his offending. Darby repeated the action against one of the girl’s siblings while they were asleep.

Darby repeatedly threatened the victims with the gun while they were asleep unless the girl performed sexual acts.

Darby also took photographs of the girl while she was undressed.

Darby was interviewed by police in 2015, and told a psychologist he “was unable to recall” the events, and described them as “just mucking around, just a joke”.

The police prosecutor said Darby had displayed a “concerning lack of insight” and appeared to show little remorse.

The matter went to trial and the victims were called to give evidence. Darby later pleaded guilty.

Victim impact statements outlined the ongoing pain and mental anguish caused by Darby’s offending.

Judge Gerard Mullaly said these were “frightening” crimes and the threats against the child’s mother added an “aspect of violence and menace”.

“These were no idle words - you had a loaded firearm close to the head of the victim’s mother,” he said.

“There can be no more chilling scenario for a child than the nightmare of having to submit to sexual abuse, or keep silent about it, to avoid the catastrophic consequences of what you threatened.

“The scourge of sexual abuse of children degrades our whole community and leaves permanent and deep scars.”

Darby was sentenced to 10 years and six months in jail, with a non-parole period of seven years and six months. He has served 37 days in pre-sentence detention.

He was placed on the Sex Offenders Register for life.