Mooroolbark man guilty of Kmart Eastland assault of four-year-old could be out of jail in six months
A man who admitted to sexually assaulting a four-year-old girl in a Kmart store will serve just six more
months in jail before being eligible for parole.
Kevin Robert Swift, 47, of Mooroolbark, yesterday received a total sentence of one year and nine months
for charges of indecent assault and possessing child pornography.
Swift pleaded guilty to assaulting the girl in a children's change room in the Kmart store in Eastland,
Ringwood, on May 16, while her mother was just metres away.
He also pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography which police found on his home computer and two
data storage devices.
County Court Judge Howard Mason ordered a non-parole period of 12 months, but with 186 days already served
at the time of sentencing, Swift could be free again six months from now.
Judge Mason said he had taken into account that Swift had no prior sexual convictions, the spontaneity of
the offence and his remorse, his alcoholism and physical and mental condition.
"This is a very sad case of a little girl and her family having been significantly emotionally traumatised
by the actions of an offender who is himself a significantly emotionally and physically damaged individual," Judge Mason said.
Mooroolbark man pleads guilty to sexually assaulting girl, 4, at Kmart in Eastland
A drug-affected alcoholic has pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a four-year-old girl at Kmart in Ringwood's Eastland earlier this year.
Kevin Robert Swift, 47, of Mooroolbark, pleaded guilty in the County Court to charges of indecent assault and possessing child pornography.
The court heard Swift had sexually assaulted the girl, who has a developmental disability, in a children's combined toy area/change room inside Kmart,
while her mother was just metres away.
The assault occurred at 2pm on Thursday, May 16, while the girl, her mother and grandmother were shopping at the store.
Prosecuting lawyer Patrick O'Halloran told the court last Wednesday the girl had gone to the change room to watch television.
The court heard while the girl was in the room, Swift, then aged 46, entered the room and molested the girl.
The girl screamed and ran to her mother, yelling she had been touched.
Swift was later arrested after police found child pornography on his home computer and two data storage devices.
Defence lawyer Michael Fitzgerald told the court Swift had abused alcohol for most of his life and had been high on synthetic cannabis when he had
committed the assault, but was full of remorse.
In a letter read to the court by Dr Fitzgerald, Swift said he was "ashamed and embarrassed" of what he had done and apologised to the girl and her family.
"To all those who know and love them, I am very sorry," the letter said.
During the hearing, Swift, dressed in a charcoal suit, light blue shirt and tie, alternated between staring straight ahead and watching proceedings.
Dr Fitzgerald, in appealing to Judge Howard Mason for an appropriate sentence, said Swift also had an acquired brain injury from years of alcohol abuse,
had the "brainpower" of an eight-year-old and had no prior sexual convictions.
"This was not predatory behaviour, this was, it seems, an opportunistic crime," he said.
Judge Mason adjourned the matter to tomorrow for another plea hearing.
Mother's horror over sexual assault
The girl's mother has told of her horror over the assault.
Kate, whose name has been changed to protect the identity of her daughter, told the Maroondah Leader she still felt guilty for allowing her daughter
to play in the children's room even though she was just metres away.
"I beat myself up because I always said, 'No, you can't go in there' and the one time my mum says just let her..." Kate said.
Kate said she had been standing just four metres away from the entrance to the room, which was available for parents to change nappies, feed babies
and had a television to entertain children.
The room - which no longer exists - had been separated from the main shopping area by clear glass divided by a strip of frosted glass, which prevented
customers from being able to see into the baby change and feeding area.
Kate said after the incident, her daughter "screamed and she came running".
"I remember her holding on to the hem of her pants," she said.
"I was like, 'What did you do to my child?' And I picked her up and held her and I asked her what he'd done and she said 'The man pulled my pants down,
mummy', and that was it, I just screamed."
In a victim impact statement tendered to the court, Kate said her daughter spoke about the sex assault almost every day, refused to go to the toilet by
herself, even in her own home, and could not go to sleep without her mother holding her hand.
"It's one of the hardest things I have ever had to go through; this little life who I have put all my energy into keeping her safe [sic], watching her
grow, and watching her struggle with her disabilities, only to have it all turned upside down by the actions of one person," the statement reads.
Kate told the Leader she wanted other parents to know about the sex assault so they could protect their children.
"You just don't expect it to happen in the middle of a shopping centre," she said.
"It only took two or three minutes, she was not in there for long at all.
"It takes two seconds for a kid to run out of your sight from one aisle to the next, nd with people like him out
there, they're going to take any opportunity."