National

Deaf Victorian girl’s molester avoids jail

By AAP Newswire

A Victorian taxi driver who preyed on a profoundly deaf girl, molesting her in his cab as he ferried her to and from school more than 20 years ago, has avoided jail.

The man, who is now 82, was found guilty by a jury of twice attacking the then-11-year-old in 1997 by fondling her breasts and kissing her on separate occasions.

His job was to take a group of children to school and he would wait until he was alone with the girl, the first student to be picked up and the last to be dropped off, before pouncing on the child.

In one occasion he tricked her into lifting her T-shirt, exposing her breasts which he grabbed at.

On another day he when the girl was sitting in the back seat and asked to move into the front, he told her she had to show him her breasts and smothered her mouth with his as she tried to move over the centre consol.

"It was abhorrent, vile behaviour which should be denounced for its repulsive and audacious nature," the sentencing Victorian County Court judge said.

The trauma of the attacks, which the trial in July this year was told was part of a wider pattern of behaviour, has a lifelong impact on the victim.

She became an angry teenager and a depressed and anxious adult who struggled with intimacy with her husband and had problems with breastfeeding her children.

"Your actions stole her childhood and she endured a violation that remains a painful obstacle," the judge said.

But the man, who was in his 60s at the time of the attacks, is now riddled with ill-health, including heart, kidney and vascular diseases, incontinence, arthritis and cognitive decline.

The judge said he believed the crimes deserved a term of imprisonment but accepted submissions the taxi driver was eligible for it to be suspended the term for two years.

The man must also submit a DNA sample to authorities, it was ordered.