A WIMMERA man who molested his granddaughter has received a suspended jail sentence.
The man, now aged in his 80s, appeared in Horsham County Court on Wednesday for sentencing.
He was charged with indecent assault and gross indecency with a child under the age of 16.
The court heard the man inappropriately touched his granddaughter on three occasions in the 1980s, when the victim was aged between four and five years old.
On another occasion he exposed himself to the victim.
Judge Michael Cahill said the victim kept the abuse a secret for 17 years, when she told her boyfriend.
"It was another 10 years before she told her mother and reported it to police," he said.
Mr Cahill said when the victim's mother confronted the man, he admitted his offending and apologised.
The man then wrote letters of apology to the victim and other members of the family.
Mr Cahill said the victim suffered greatly as a result of the abuse.
"She felt uncomfortable and scared when you molested her and she carried that shame for most of her life," he said.
"She suffered flashbacks, nightmares and suicidal thoughts.
"She will likely have extreme difficulty for the rest of her life as a result of your offending."
The court heard the man was now elderly and had significant health issues.
"During your working life, you were otherwise a good husband and father and contributed to your local community," Mr Cahill said.
"You have also maintained a positive relationship with your wife."
Mr Cahill said the man was unaware of the potential impact his offending would have on his granddaughter, at the time of the abuse.
"There has been no offending prior to or since these incidents," he said.
Mr Cahill said the man was now aware of the serious nature of his actions and it was clear he was remorseful.
He said he took a number of factors into account when sentencing the man.
Factors included the man's genuine remorse, lack of other offending, his early guilty plea, his old age and frail health, and evidence of his good character.
The prosecution had argued that the young age of the victim aggravated the seriousness of the offending.
Mr Cahill said time in jail would be "extremely burdensome" for the man because he was "old and frail".
"The offending is serious and if it was committed more recently, it would warrant a period of actual incarceration," he said.
Mr Cahill sentenced the man to a wholly suspended sentence of 21 months.
The man was placed on the sex offender registry for 15 years.
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