Perth: Elderly man (79) sent to jail for sexually abusing eight girls in 1970s and 1980s

Stock image.
Stock image.

AN ELDERLY man who sexually abused eight girls decades ago, including during beach camping trips, has been sentenced to more than eight years in a West Australian prison but his lawyer has already flagged a possible appeal.

Kenneth Ernest Norman, 79, was found guilty of 12 counts of indecently dealing with the children in the 1970s and 1980s.

Norman’s offending involved girls, aged eight to 13, who he knew through his friendship with their parents, the WA District Court heard on Wednesday.

He abused them during activities including camping trips and rides on his motorbike.

Judge Mark Herron said the crimes were planned and persistent, rather than opportunistic, describing the offending as a “gross abuse of trust”.

He said Norman, who worked as an electrician in Albany, preyed on the girls for his own sexual gratification.

“The children were vulnerable – you preyed on that vulnerability.”

Norman’s crimes only stopped because the victims grew up and there was a reduced opportunity for him to have contact with children, Judge Herron said.

The victims expressed feelings of guilt and shame, with some saying they had become over-protective parents and were stressed when they saw him.

One woman said she hated going to the beach and camping.

Another said she had depression, anxiety and panic attacks.

Judge Herron said Norman had showed limited remorse or insight into his crimes.

The judge said it would be inappropriate to suspend the sentence, but acknowledged Norman would endure greater hardship in prison than a younger and healthier person.

Norman was sentenced to eight years and eight months in prison.

He must spend at least six years and eight months behind bars before he can be eligible for parole.

Outside court, some of Norman’s victims said they were relieved by the sentence.

“We’ve waited decades for justice to be served and in the process it’s had a big effect on our lives, a detrimental effect on our lives,” Julie Driver said.

“We’re just glad that it’s over with now and that the person involved, who affected all of us, has been subjected to a fair sentencing.”

Ms Driver also urged other victims of child sex abuse to speak out.

“Even though it’s a very difficult process to go through this, we know that it’s worthwhile because we don’t want these predators in the community and getting away with these crimes,” she said.

Asked whether Norman would appeal the sentence, defense counsel Tom Percy said: “He’s looking at his options.”