A man's prolonged physical and sexual abuse of his two stepdaughters saw the girls grow up under a "reign of terror".
Now that man is likely to spend the rest of his life behind bars, with a County Court judge sentencing him this week to a minimum 19 years' imprisonment.
The central Victorian man aged in his 50s was found guilty by a jury of 16 charges of incest, one charge of common assault, three charges of intentionally causing injury, and six charges of indecent act with a child under 16.
His offending spanned about 12 years, when the girls were adolescents.
The charges of intentionally causing injury relate to the older victim.
The court heard the girl was asking for a drink, having been deprived of food and liquids for some time.
The offender gave her a bucket of water, then grabbed her by her hair and threw her down, injuring her tailbone. He also once punched, choked, headbutted, kneed and kicked the girl after she threw a pen.
The court heard the man again punched, kicked, choked, threw the girl on concrete and spat on her on another occasion, leaving her bleeding, "black and blue", and missing hair.
"It was deliberate and calculated brutalisation of a child," Judge John Smallwood said.
The man committed acts of penetration in his sexual abuse of both sisters.
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The man subjected one of the girls to this in the home, shed, and in his vehicle, when he would take her elsewhere to sexually abuse her.
He also made her touch him so often that she could not recount how many times it had happened.
On one occasion, he forced her to urinate on him.
When the perpetrator found out the girl had a boyfriend, he rammed her head into a motorcycle while calling her a "piece of shit".
The court heard that when one of the girls, aged about 12 at the time, asked him why he treated her as he did, he told her: "I'm a rat and I'm an evil c---", adding he was "jealous". He told the other victim she was "his girl".
The older of the two victims also gave evidence during the trial that beginning in Grade 5 or 6, she felt she was singled out from the other children in the family: she was made to do chores starting at 6am until she went to school as well as after school, and was punished for doing things the others were not.
Her stepfather would call her such names as peasant, rodent and pig dog, he would kick, punch, knee and headbutt her, and would force her to do "spelling" - writing out from a book - until the early hours of the morning.
She was banned from eating breakfast from about Grade 2, and was not allowed to eat dinner with the family, as her stepfather told her no one wanted to see her and she made them sick.
The younger sister said he also made her perform a sexual act on herself in front of her mother in order to gain permission to go to a social, an act he forced her to repeat many times.
These actions did not relate to the specific charges, Judge Smallwood said, but were examples of the way the perpetrator conducted himself.
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Judge Smallwood read the victims' impact statements to the court and commended them for their courage in making them, as well as their bravery in going through the justice process.
The younger of the victims said she felt she never had a childhood, and the girl she was had been robbed of her freedom and innocence.
While the man no longer held his power, she said: "Trusting another human being has been so hard, but more so a man".
She spoke of how the offending affected her parenting of her children and all she wanted was to be a normal mother for them.
"I can never erase the past and make the nightmares go away," she wrote. She also said she had lost her mother, who stood by the offender.
Her sister described feeling numb as she grew up because it was the only way she knew how to survive.
She said she constantly felt on edge growing up, conscious even of the way she stood and breathed, because she was so fearful she was doing something wrong.
"I was repeatedly being told I was worth nothing and I was worthless... My whole being was made to feel it was wrong," she said.
She did not want to leave home, she said, because she knew the violence would be directed towards her siblings instead.
Their brother also made a statement, saying the man tore his family apart.
"After treating us like he did, how can he call himself a human being?" he said.
Your conduct as described was vile and, in your own description, evil.- Judge John Smallwood
Judge Smallwood said these gave a graphic account of the "reign of terror [the man] exercised over these two girls". He said words failed him in trying to categorise the man's offending, labelling it "depraved".
"Your conduct as described was vile and, in your own description, evil," Judge Smallwood said.
He noted there was "absolutely no remorse".
The man's offending was aggravated by the ages of his victims, Judge Smallwood said, and noted it occurred regularly, involved significant violence, and involved the threat of violence if the girls were to disclose what happened.
He accepted that the man's numerous health conditions meant imprisonment would be more difficult for him and the time between the end of his offending and the police report was a mitigating factor.
The man was sentenced to a maximum of 25 years' imprisonment, with a non-parole period of 19 years.
Fourteen charges attracted sentences of 10 years each, two charges 12 years and another seven years.
The judge said the principle of totality meant he could not impose a greater punishment.
The man will remain on the sex offenders register for life.
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