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Child molester jailed for six years

A man who admitted sexually exploiting a five-year-old girl and inflicting emotional trauma on her family has been jailed for six years.

The Supreme Court heard that Michael Raymond Byron, 54, of Southampton, abused a position of trust when he molested the child twice during one occasion on August 31, 2014.

Puisne Judge Carlisle Greaves branded the offences “terrible”, while Byron told the court he prayed for the healing of the victim’s family along with his own.

According to Crown counsel Karen King, the accused has a history of offences, having been fined $400 for a 1989 case of making a lewd telephone call.

Ms King said Byron had been a friend of the victim’s family and, on the date of the offences, had attended her grandmother’s residence.

The victim, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was at the home later that day. The girl, who had met Byron before, “playfully interacted with the defendant”, Ms King said, and Byron later agreed to take her to a friend’s house in his car.

The court heard that once in the car, Byron rubbed his hand on the child’s private parts before pulling down his trousers and placing the victim’s hand on his private parts. Byron then drove the child to another residence.

The victim told her grandmother that she no longer liked Byron, and described what had happened. Her family called the Police and Byron was arrested the next day.

During an interview on September 3, he admitted to the offences. At a December 1 court appearance, he was convicted on his own confession of two counts of sexually exploiting a young person. Byron has been in custody since last September.

The maximum penalty for such offences is 20 years in prison, Ms King said, calling for an immediate custodial sentence. According to a social report carried out on Byron, he attributed his behaviour to “being inundated by the complexity of life”.

“Acts of this nature are fast becoming an epidemic,” the prosecutor added, noting that there had been 15 indictments for serious sexual assault between 2008 and 2014, and 20 cases of sexual exploitation committed by persons in positions of trust.

She suggested between six and eight years of incarceration.

Defence lawyer Bruce Swan pointed to Byron’s early guilty plea, which spared his victim and her family the ordeal of a trial.

“I would not like to make light of the situation, but there were two touches in one moment,” Mr Swan said, noting that Byron’s offences fell towards the lower end of the scale.

He suggested a term of four to five years in jail.

Rising before his sentencing, Byron said he wished to apologise to the girl and her family, adding: “I just pray that the family will be restored.

“My remorse has continued to be before me from the time I was arrested, even through now. It’s always there. It sort of acts as a motivator for me to be a better person, to stand up and be a man and take part in society. I would like to apologise to my family also.

“I just pray that God forgives me. I apologise also to my community, to which I have to be returned one day. I am just sorry that I actually allowed myself to submit to this.”

In sentencing, Mr Justice Greaves conceded a discount for Byron’s early guilty plea.

“It is always a terrible act when a grown man sexually exploits young children,” he continued. “It is difficult to fathom how and why one would do so. In my mind, not even being cast away to a desert island in the midst of an inaccessible ocean should corrupt a grown man to any extent that he should see a five-year-old baby boy or baby girl in a sexual manner — furthermore, to sexually exploit him or her.”

Byron was sentenced to six years on each count, to run concurrently, with time in custody taken into consideration.

He was ordered to take part in rehabilitation programmes and will be registered as a sex offender upon his release.

He was also forbidden to have any unsupervised contact with children.