Accessory to sexual assault sentenced in Coffs Harbour
A WOOLGOOLGA man who helped two men flee town after they allegedly sexually assaulted two teenage girls has been convicted in Coffs Harbour District Court.
Dalwinder Singh appeared before Judge Peter Whitford on Thursday charged with two counts of being an accessory after the fact.
The charge dates from February 6 last year when Singh, 25, was contacted by two men - who were known to him - asking for his help to "take them away from Woolgoolga".
It was a day after the two men allegedly assaulted two 16-year-old girls at Woolgoolga Headland and a nearby blueberry farm.
A third man is also charged with the assault at Woolgoolga Headland.
The trial for two of the accused men is listed for January next year and authorities are seeking for a third man to be extradited from India.
On the day of the alleged offence, the victims were living in residential care and had gone to Woolgoolga foreshore.
They spoke to three men at the park and the group began drinking alcohol before the girls got into the car with the men and went to Woolgoolga Headland.
Several indecent assaults were alleged to have been committed against the victims, before they were directed back into the car.
Two of the men drove the girls to a nearby blueberry farm and they went inside a cabin on the property.
One of the victims was given more alcohol by one of the accused, who then allegedly took her to a caravan, pushed her down and sexually assaulted her.
The second man then went inside the caravan and allegedly stopped the victim from leaving.
The court was told he allegedly pushed her down, pressed a knife to her neck and sexually assaulted her without her consent.
The co-accused then fled the scene and the victims were taken to hospital for examination.
The next day, the two co-accused men approached Singh asking for his help.
Singh agreed to drive them to the Gold Coast, where he left them, before returning to Woolgoolga.
The court heard Singh let them use his mobile phone as neither of the co-accused wanted to use their phones.
The co-accused then proceeded to Brisbane where they boarded a flight to India that night.
At the time, Singh was of the understanding that both men were under suspicion from the police, but denied knowing they intended to leave Australia.
Singh's solicitor, Hugo Schleiger, argued his client had no criminal record and had pleaded guilty at the first available opportunity.
Mr Schleiger said his client was now working at a Woolgoolga blueberry farm to pay for a diploma at a Queensland college where he travels to twice a week.
In sentencing, Judge Whitford said the offending resulted from "peer pressure and a desire to assist his friends without... significant thought to the consequences of his actions".
Singh was convicted on both offences and sentenced to a 12-month good behaviour bond.