Ex-couple jailed over WA child sex abuse

The West Australian District Court.
The West Australian District Court.

WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT

A FORMER couple who already have significant criminal records for sexually abusing children have been jailed for offending against a 12-year-old Perth girl in the 1980s.

Douglaas Stephan Withnell, 68, and his ex-wife Bethany Jayne Gilmore, 66, were found guilty of having carnal knowledge of the girl. He was also convicted of indecently dealing with her.

Withnell was sentenced in the WA District Court on Monday to three years in prison, while Gilmore was sentenced to 16 months behind bars.

The now 43-year-old victim, who cannot be named, cried as she testified during the trial.

She said she was taken to a dark bedroom where Withnell raped her on a bed, as Gilmore held her hand and repeatedly told her: “If it hurts, squeeze my hand.”

Withnell also inappropriately touched the victim during a separate incident in a bathroom.

Justice Joseph McGrath described the offending as depraved and premeditated.

The former couple were previously convicted of similar sexual abuse and the court heard totality was a factor in sentencing.

Justice McGrath accepted Gilmore was an “aider” to her dominant partner, but said she was not acting under the threat of violence.

“You did what you did because you chose to do so, ultimately,” he said.

Justice McGrath acknowledged the mother-of-five had offered to plead guilty to one charge and had written a letter to the court saying she was ashamed, but he said she had limited remorse.

Withnell had not demonstrated any remorse or empathy, he said.

The court heard Withnell’s health problems include mobility issues, emphysema and a mild form of leukaemia.

Gilmore also has some health issues including a back injury, and hearing and sight impairments.

Her lawyer had urged for a suspended sentence, but Justice McGrath said the offence was too serious.

Both offenders will be eligible for parole after serving half their respective terms.