THE moral culpability of an intellectually impaired man who took a child into a unit before raping her was the focus during a sentencing hearing in court on Friday.
Michael James Kennedy, 23, of Ashmont, appeared in Wagga District Court after pleading guilty to one count of sexual intercourse with a child under 10 years old.
He had also pleaded guilty to one count of entering a dwelling with the intention to commit a serious indictable offence, namely aggravated indecent assault.
The court heard that the offences happened early last year when Kennedy was living with his partner.
Kennedy took the child into a bedroom where he closed the door then raped her.
The sexual assault left the victim crying and was only stopped when his partner interrupted.
In court, defence counsel called Kennedy's father, Mark Kennedy, to the witness box where he outlined his son's mild intellectual disability since childhood.
He told the court that his son has had learning difficulties since he was a child and has had various psychological medication and assessments.
"While he's been in custody, he's being medicated," Mr Kennedy said.
"He feels sorry for what he's putting us through, I'm sure he shows that he's sorry."
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Defence barrister Christine Mendes said medical reports state that Kennedy has had a mild intellectual disability since he was six years old.
Ms Mendes said that while "there is no doubt this is a very serious matter", the sentencing needs to be considered through the lens of someone with such an intellectual impairment.
She argued for leniency because the offending was an isolated episode over a short time, that there was no pre-planning and that Kennedy had a limited conviction record.
However, Crown solicitor Virginia Morgan said Kennedy's intellectual disability was not "so profound that he didn't understand what he was doing was morally wrong".
"He deployed cunningness in the way he removed the child ... Those circumstances must've been terrifying for her," she said.
"His moral culpability is reduced because of his intellectual disability. Nevertheless, the offence is amongst the most serious...it carries a life imprisonment."
Judge Gordon Lerve said there must be a substantial jail sentence.
"General deterrence is a very significant issue in a matter of this sort. Although this is tempered here by his level of intellectual impairment," he said.
Judge Lerve has reserved his sentence and the matter will be mentioned next week.