Kevin John Steel

Posted: May 18, 2014 by Serendipity in Northern Territory, Queensland
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Abuse victims confront sex predator in Cairns court

Melanie Petrinec

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Far Northern woman has confronted the sex predator who robbed her of her childhood more than 30 years ago.

“For approximately 35 years, I have been in prison for these crimes,” the woman said as she stared down her attacker, Cairns man Kevin John Steel in the Cairns District Court yesterday.

“I still take hot, scalding showers in a bid to clean myself.”

Steel was sentenced to four years jail, 20 years after he confessed to sexually abusing sisters Tracey and Sharon.

He was not charged until this year because police lost track of him interstate.

With her sons looking on in tears, Sharon, now 42, read her victim impact statement in person to the man who had abused her in Mt Isa.

Pausing at times to compose herself, she said she was “bewildered and angry at the world”, and her lingering emotional problems led to difficulties bonding with her first child.

“It wasn’t until the birth of my second son … that I could kiss my (first) child.

“My first son missed his mother’s kisses and affection – a birth right.

“For that, I say damn you to hell.”

The sisters, who now live in Far North Queensland, were sexually assaulted between the ages of nine and 11 in the 1970s and reported the crimes in 1989.

The court heard Steel was not formally charged until this year because he got “lost in the system” after serving two years’ jail in the Northern Territory.

The 60-year-old Innisfail-born man has numerous health problems and has been living in Cairns since 2006.

After police tracked him down last year, he pleaded guilty in Cairns District Court to two charges of attempted rape, five of indecent treatment of a child, and one of indecent assault.

Judge Bill Everson said yesterday had no choice but to sentence Steel based on the penalties enforced in the 1970s, which are significantly lower than today’s punishment guidelines.

He will be released after serving 16 months of his four-year term.

Judge Everson described the length of time it took for the defendant to appear before court as “inexcusable”, and Crown prosecutor Michael Connelly admitted Steel could have been “pursued with more vigour”.

But outside court yesterday, the two sisters were simply relieved their attacker was finally behind bars after years of believing that day would never come.

“I’m surprised that he got any time,” Tracey, 43, admitted.

“I’m glad that it’s been heard; I’m glad that he is getting sent (to jail).”

Sharon said she grappled with the idea of reading her statement in person, facing the man who caused her so much pain.

“When I walked in the courtroom this morning I thought no way, it’s not going to happen,” she said.

“And then as he made eye contact with me and I stared him down and he turned away, and I thought, ‘Yes, I will do that’.

“It was reversing the power exchange actually; he turned away two times from me.

“We’ve had our day, and we’re moving on.”

Child protection campaigner and Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston yesterday commended the women’s bravery.

“Everyone’s kids are a lot safer because of what they have done today,” she said.

“It just means so much to all of us workers in this industry for them to have the guts to take these bastards on.

“My heart goes out to them, and they also have my gratitude.”


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