‘For 30 years I believed he was going to die innocent’
A BRISBANE man who sexually assaulted a young acquaintance more than 30 years ago has been jailed by a district court.
Tense scenes erupted after Terence John Callaghan was jailed, with the 70-year-old whispering abuse to the victim's family as they left the courtroom.
Callaghan pleaded guilty to seven counts of indecent treatment of a child under 16 at Brisbane District Court on Friday.
The court was told the offences were committed between 1983 and 1986.
The woman was aged between 7 and 11-years-old while Callaghan was in his thirties at the time. Both were living in Coral Park, now Ellen Grove.
Crown prosecutor Evan O'Hanlon told the court Callaghan led the girl to secluded rooms on multiple occasions, where he removed her clothes and penetrated her vagina with his tongue and fingers.
On one occasion, he grabbed her vagina while she was in the spa.
The victim told her school guidance counsellor about the assault in 1991 but matters did not proceed until she lodged a fresh complaint to police last year.
At first, Callaghan denied the allegations.
In a victim impact statement to the court, the woman told the court the offending and left her with feelings of worthlessness, self-doubt and suffering from depression and anxiety.
Judge Orazio Ruinado noted the woman had "pulled herself together" to complete a nursing and midwifery degree, a Masters and was now married with children.
Defence lawyer Robert Glenday said there was no risk of reoffending as it had been 33 years since Callaghan had committed any offences and there was no risk to the community.
He said his client had several health issues that required medication and was a full-time carer for his wife.
Judge Ruinado said Callaghan's offending was "egregious" and persistent.
"At the time, you were of a mature age and had children of your own, and you preyed on a young, innocent woman," he said.
Having regard for Callaghan's age and health issues, Judge Ruinado sentenced him to two years' jail, suspended after two months.
Outside court, the woman said the sentence was a tremendous weight off her shoulders.
"For 30 years I believed he was going to die an innocent man," the woman told News Corp.
"I'm happy he pleaded guilty and is going to jail."
*For 24-hour sexual violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636.
Originally published as 'For 30 years I believed he was going to die an innocent man'