Bunbury region man jailed for nine years over two attacks on his stepdaughter

A 37-year-old man from Greater Bunbury was jailed for nine years in Bunbury District Court on Friday morning for two attacks on his stepdaughter.
A 37-year-old man from Greater Bunbury was jailed for nine years in Bunbury District Court on Friday morning for two attacks on his stepdaughter.

A man from the Bunbury region who committed two horrific attacks against his stepdaughter was jailed for nine years in Bunbury District Court on Friday morning. 

The 37-year-old man, who can not be named, took his 18-year-old stepdaughter for a driving lesson near Collie on December 18, 2016.

The man switched the dual fuel vehicle from petrol to gas while the young woman was driving without her knowledge. Shortly after the gas ran out, making it appear as though the vehicle had broken down. 

The man took control of the car, reversing it down a gravel track before walking away from the vehicle, pretending he was going to get help. 

He returned shortly after wearing a mask and gloves and in possession of a voice-altering device. 

He held a pair of pliers to the woman’s throat, which she believed at the time was a serrated knife. He then tied her hands behind her back and used a cable tie to secure her neck to the passenger seat headrest. 

Once bound, the man fondled the woman’s breasts and vagina over her clothes and told her she “would be gang-raped and cut into little pieces”. 

The man eventually fled and buried the items in the bushland. He then returned to the car and pretended to have no knowledge of what had happened. 

The next day the woman reported the incident to police. The man was questioned, charged and released with protective bail conditions. 

Judge Felicity Davis read from the victim impact statement, noting the woman “did not want to believe police when they told her her step-father was the offender” and that he “repeatedly denied” the accusations at the time. 

Two months later on February 18, 2017, the woman, who had gained her licence, was driving on the Bunbury Outer Ring Road after visiting her family. 

The man, who was following her, had covered the spotlights on his vehicle with red and blue plastic covers and had altered the wiring in his car so he could make them flash.

He tricked the woman into pulling over, believing the police were stopping her. 

The man used a rag to cover his face, wore sunglasses, gloves, a hoodie and was again in possession of a voice-altering device.

He forced the woman into the passenger seat of her car and drove her to bushland in Boyanup. 

He placed duct-tape over the woman’s eyes,  forced her to remove her clothes and took photos of her naked body with her phone. He then sent them to his phone along with suggestive messages in an attempt to make it appear as though the victim was propositioning him. 

He then drove the woman back to the Outer Ring Road so he could retrieve his car and told her to “count to 200 before you flee”. 

The court was told he committed the second offence in an attempt to confuse police about the identity of the woman’s attacker, believing they would drop the charges leveled against him from the first offence. 

Shortly after the second attack, the man was arrested by police and led them to the spot where he had buried a number of incriminating items. 

Defence lawyer Michael Develin said the man “could not find the words to describe how poorly he had behaved” and “wanted to express in open court his sincere regret and apology to the victim” for his “gross breach of trust”. 

Mr Develin also told the court the man’s criminal record only featured a few minor traffic offences and references described him as a “hard working family man” who was “generous and kind”. 

In sentencing, Judge Davis said she accepted the man’s remorse but she also had to consider a number of aggravating factors that included the fact the attacks were well planned and had caused immense emotional trauma. 

The second offence was also aggravated by the fact it was committed while on bail for the first, in an attempt to make it look like someone else was the guilty party. 

The man was sentenced to a total of nine years’ imprisonment, backdated to February 20, 2017.

He was made eligible for parole after seven years.