A terminally ill Northern NSW man has been sentenced over child abuse offences he committed 37 years ago.
A terminally ill Northern NSW man has been sentenced over child abuse offences he committed 37 years ago. Marc Stapelberg

Terminally ill man sentenced for historic child abuse

AN ELDERLY man has been spared additional time behind bars over historical child sexual abuse offences.

Frail and terminally ill, the 76-year-old appeared in the dock of Lismore District Court on Friday.

He had pleaded guilty to two counts of assaulting a female and committing an act of indecency and two counts of committing an act of indecency on a person under 16 years.

Further offences of possessing child abuse material and drug possession were to be taken into account upon his sentencing.

The court heard he'd committed the offences against the same girl he was babysitting at the time, some 37 years ago.

These involved kissing the girl's genitals, sleeping in the same bed with her while the pair were nude and massaging her, also while nude.

The matters were first reported to police in 2016 and the following February, the man made admissions about the acts of which he has now been convicted.

During a search of his home in April, 2017 police found photographs of young children as well as a small amount of cannabis.

Defence barrister Megan Cusack asked Judge Dina Yehia to consider imposing a custodial sentence, but one in which the non-parole period encompassed the time he'd already spent in custody.

That amounted to almost two months.

The court heard the man was highly intelligent, with his work on an Australian film being nominated for an award at the Cannes Film Festival in the 1980s.

Judge Dina Yehia found his prognosis, that he would live another nine to 18 months given his current health conditions, should be taken into account in sentencing him.

She also took into account extra-curial punishment the man received when his victim embarked on a letter-box drop in the Northern Rivers town he was living in during 2016.

The court heard this forced him to leave that area. He's since been living in Ballina.

For the most serious offence, Judge Yehia sentenced the man to 10 months' prison, with a one month, 25 day non-parole period expiring immediately.

He received community corrections order - the longest spanning two years - for his other crimes.