No mercy for evil grandma who gave toddler to paedophile

A woman who complained she was punished too harshly for handing her 20-month-old granddaughter over to a sex predator has been refused mercy by South Australia's highest court.

In a unanimous judgment published online, the Full Court of the Court of Criminal Appeal dismissed the grandmother-of-five's challenge to her five-year sentence.

She insisted that was a manifestly excessive term for sacrificing the child's innocence to feed the perverse appetite of her online boyfriend, convicted paedophile Shane Alan Hartley.

In the lead judgment, Chief Justice Chris Kourakis noted the woman's penalty was near the maximum allowed for her crimes - but said that matched the grave nature of her betrayal.

"It would be expected that sentences approaching the maximum would generally be reserved for perpetrators, not persons who have aided or facilitated (a crime)," he said.

 

Chief Justice Chris Kourakis said deterrence and the protection of children were paramount considerations when sentencing child sex offenders. Picture: Dylan Coker
Chief Justice Chris Kourakis said deterrence and the protection of children were paramount considerations when sentencing child sex offenders. Picture: Dylan Coker

"However … (paedophiles) naturally find it difficult to have access to children because of the close care and protection which parents and grandparents give young children.

"The family member which most parents would trust, more than any other relative, is the child's grandmother.

"It is this contrast between the unquestioning trust placed in (the woman) and the selfish departure from the obligation of care … which demands condign punishment."

The woman, 47, was dating Hartley - the first South Australian charged under Carly's Law, which targets online predators - when he revealed his obsession with little girls.

She readily agreed to his requests for sexually explicit photos of both her youngest grandchild, aged seven months, and the 20-month-old.

She then took the older child to Hartley's home so he could abuse her - he would go on to receive a 13-year term for his crimes, including the collection of child exploitation material.

The woman received a non-parole period of four years and four months, with the District Court dubbing her betrayal "the grossest abuse of trust that can be imagined".

She filed an appeal, claiming her sentence was too close to the maximum and failed to account for her low-level cognitive functioning and violent upbringing.

In his judgment, Chief Justice Kourakis said those factors did not outweigh the need to deter other "dysfunctional individuals" from assisting paedophiles.

"Sympathy for an offender's personal circumstances, and even real prospects for rehabilitation, become second-order considerations in sentencing for offences of this kind," he said.

"The protection of children, now and into the future, is the paramount consideration."

Justices Greg Parker and Sam Doyle agreed.

"The mere fact that one can envisage a worse case does not necessarily prevent the imposition of even the maximum penalty," Justice Doyle said.

"(That) her offending was not motivated by sexual gratification (is) of limited relevance … she was, in any event, selfishly motivated by a desire to ingratiate herself with Hartley."