'Violent terrible act against one so young, so vulnerable'
THE man who raped a two-year-old girl in Tennant Creek, sparking national outrage, has been sentenced to 13 years' jail. He will be eligible for parole after serving 9-and-a-half years.
The man, who can't be named for legal reasons, fronted court in Alice Springs on Friday and pleaded guilty to his horrific attack in 2018.
The toddler suffered from psychological damage, a sexually transmitted disease and physical injuries including bleeding, bruising, swelling and a laceration.
The offender pleaded guilty to sexual intercourse without consent after he went into the home of the girl and raped her while her mother was sleeping.
Crown prosecutor Glen Dooley provided a victim impact statement from the victim's father.
"[He] says firstly that his family and he are strong, that he just can't express his sadness and he has no words," Mr Dooley said.
"He comments on the situation with his wife. He says that she is just trying to be a mum… and doesn't want to know or think about this business."
Mr Dooley said the offending was in the "worst category" and carries a maximum penalty of life in jail.
"This is a crime that deeply disturbed the Tennant Creek community and the nation," he said.
In 2018, former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he was left shocked after reading an unredacted report into the rape of the girl.
"That is a shocking story and, a tragic story, and I read the full report on it," he said.
"It's heart-breaking. You have to put the children first, full stop."
A redacted version of Children's Commissioner Colleen Gwynne's report into the toddler's rape was released in April 2018 but many of the more graphic details were kept secret.
Defence lawyer John McBride said his client was an "unremarkable individual."
"It is a violent, terrible act committed against one so young and one so vulnerable," Mr McBride said.
The sleeping mother didn't realise something had happened until she was woken up by a visitor at around midnight.
The mother flagged down an ambulance and the toddler was rushed to the Tennant Creek Hospital before being transported to Adelaide for treatment.
Police conducted extensive forensic investigations and used samples of blood taken from the crime scene and semen left in the nappy to link DNA to the offender.
In an interview with police, the offender denied the crime and asserted an alibi.
Minister for Territory Families Dale Wakefield told the NT News child protection authorities are increasingly focusing on prevention over crisis intervention.
"The Tennant Creek incident was tragic and highlighted how far we had to go to reform our child protection system," she said.
"Every child deserves a childhood where they are safe and connected with their culture and identity."
*For 24-hour sexual violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636.