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Man jailed eight years for sex assault on young girl

Mental health patient Merrick Seaman has been jailed for eight years for sexually attacking a five-year-old girl as she played outside.

Seaman, who suffers from schizophrenia and other mental illnesses, preyed on the young girl who was lagging behind while playing with her cousin and sister.

The 25-year-old was an outpatient at the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute (MWI) at the time of the assault in July 2010.

Chief Justice Richard Ground said Seaman had an “apparent sexual obsession” and had “remained fixated and determined” to carry out the attack.

He told the Supreme Court: “I regard these as very serious offences … There is no real mitigation and you have shown no real remorse.”

A jury convicted Seaman of Park Hill, Warwick, of two counts of sexual exploitation of a young person earlier this year.

Chief Justice Ground added that Seaman was “a product of his circumstances” but said his mental health could not be used as “an invite” to commit sex crimes.

The court had previously heard about the “stress and distress” of the victim and the long-term effects of the attack.

It was described as a “very clearly planned” attack with the girl targeted as she “was unlikely to put up any real struggle”. DNA from saliva found on the girl’s underwear and private parts matched Seaman’s DNA.

Seaman stood up in the dock yesterday to say: “I want to apologise to everyone in court. I am really sorry for what happened.

“I wish I had the power to control myself. I wish it never happened.”

The court had previously heard how MWI doctors “could do no more” for Seaman, who had been diagnosed with mental health issues at just five years old.

He carried out the sex attack when he was not showing any psychotic symptoms and had been stabilised with medication.

In a written submission doctors suggested that Seaman should receive a prison sentence then be transferred to a specialist mental health hospital.

Chief Justice Ground suggested Seaman would also need “continued supervision” after prison but said he couldn’t make that part of his probation.

In an earlier hearing he discussed the possibility of sending Seaman to a UK hospital for treatment, but said this would require Government permission and medical evidence showing it would be beneficial.

Defence Lawyer Ken Savoury said Seaman couldn’t remember the sex attack “but accepts it could have happened” as he’d done things in the past with no recollection of them.

He said his “previous impeccable record” and the year he’d already served in prison should be taken into consideration.

Mr Savoury said: “If it wasn’t for his mental illness, this young man would not be standing here today. We accept there must be some responsibility but our submission that his responsibility was somewhat diminished because of his mental health.

“I’d ask the court to consider the exceptional circumstances of this case and be mindful of the alternatives to incarceration”.

Mr Savoury said because of his mental illness Seaman should not be categorised as “a normal person” and said his needs would not be met at Westgate.

He previously told the court: “Westgate is not suitable for a person with Mr Seaman’s mental disorder.

“I shudder to think what would happen if you impose a custodial sentence then release him into the community.”

Seaman was first seen by a psychiatrist when he was five years old because he was aggressive, disruptive and hyperactive.

As a teenager he was said to show signs of sexually inappropriate behaviour and was suspended from school on several occasions.

Seaman was placed in the “highest category of residential treatment” on a number of occasions in North America and was prescribed “very powerful” psychotic drugs.

The court heard that Seaman had also undergone three separate two-week residential stays at MWI. At the time of the sex attack, Seaman had a treatment plan and continued to meet with his caseworker as a day patient.

He was also said to have a fixation with weapons, threatening to kill himself and his family members.

The maximum penalty for this type of crime is15 years in prison and prosecutor Kristy-Ann Keillor recommended Seaman be given five to ten years because of the “nature and seriousness” of the offence.

She previously said in court: “He has continued with his highly-sexualised behaviour over the years and seems to have a fixation on the young.

“This defendant remains a high risk of reoffending as long as he’s sexually capable.”

Chief Justice Ground said Seaman ordered him to serve eight years in prison for each of the two counts of sex abuse. The prison sentences will run concurrently.

Merrick Seaman

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Published August 31, 2011 at 2:00 am (Updated August 31, 2011 at 10:15 am)

Man jailed eight years for sex assault on young girl

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