A victim of indecent assault as a child continues to struggle with the effects the crime has had on her life, the County Court has heard.
Christopher Paul Hill, 58, was jailed for 18 months, with 10 months suspended, after pleading guilty to two charges of indecent assault of a child under 16.
Hill assaulted the then-adolescent victim several years ago while she spent the night at his home.
She was sleeping on a camping mattress beside the bed Hill shared with his wife when she woke to hear Hill breathing heavily, before he put his hand into her underpants and indecently assaulted her.
The victim moved slightly and pretended to be wakening in an attempt to stop Hill.
He stopped for a short time, but again indecently assaulted her in the same manner.
The victim reported the assaults to her boyfriend, counsellor and mother later, before taking the matter to police.
In his police interview, Hill said it was possible he could have flung his arm out and touched the girl in his sleep, but did not believe he would have touched the lower part of her body.
Defence counsel Michael Turner submitted his client's guilty plea, while late, still saved the victim cross-examination in a trial.
Mr Turner said his client also faced significant health issues.
Hill had no relevant criminal history, he said, and would not commit further crimes.
Mr Turner asked the judge for the opportunity for Hill to serve his sentence in the community, rather than in prison.
More court news: Jail time for Bendigo meth dealer
Prosecutor David Cordy said Hill's offending represented a serious breach of trust that had made a significant impact on the victim's life.
Mr Cordy said the judge should consider the offending as one-off and acknowledged the notoriety Hill would bear in a small community, rather than a large city, but said it was a crime that called for imprisonment.
In sentencing Hill, Judge Michael Murphy noted the victim continued to struggle, suffering nightmares, a loss of self-confidence, discomfort with men and a feeling her childhood had been ruined.
Her mother also provided a victim impact statement, in which she described how "every parent's worst nightmare" turned her daughter from a bright and bubbly child into a person who became more withdrawn and pushed her loved ones away.
Judge Murphy said Hill's position of trust in relation to the girl was an aggravating feature of the offending, as he had breached his duty to protect the her and breached the trust of her mother.
Serious health issues would make Hill's term of imprisonment more burdensome, he said, and this did warrant some leniency.
Judge Murphy said character references showed Hill was regarded as a "kind, decent, hardworking and trustworthy person", and his guilty plea indicated remorse.
More court news: Knife-wielding burglar slashed at man, court hears
He regarded Hill's prospects of rehabilitation as excellent.
But Judge Murphy said it was important any sentence vindicated the community's attitude that children be protected, and decided a wholly suspended term of imprisonment was not in the community's interest.
Hill was sentenced to an 18-month prison term, with 10 months of that to be suspended for 18 months.
This meant he was required to serve eight months in jail.
Hill will also be on the sex offender register for eight years and must provide police with a DNA sample.
If not for Hill's guilty plea, Judge Murphy said, he would have been sentenced to a two-year jail term with a minimum non-parole period of 16 months.
Have you signed up to the Bendigo Advertiser's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in central Victoria.