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Victorian man who raped child he met at rollerskating rink learns fate


A Victorian man who raped a 12-year-old girl he met at a rollerskating rink and claimed it was consensual has been jailed for almost nine years.

Daniel Clifton was aged 18 when he met the girl at the Rollerway Skate Centre in Geelong’s Newtown in 2014 and began grooming her.

He was one of the better skaters at the rink and the child developed a crush on him, which he took advantage off, Melbourne’s County Court heard on Wednesday.

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Clifton gave her lifts home from skating, which made her dependent on him. He also gave the child a gift.

Over 12 months, between February 2014 and 2015, Clifton sexually assaulted and raped the girl on seven separate occasions in his car and at his parent’s house.

Clifton, now 27, contested the charges and the matter went to trial earlier this year.

You knew what you were doing was very wrong.

A jury in August found him guilty of 15 offences including rape and multiple counts of sexual penetration of a child under 16.

He faced the court by video link from custody on Wednesday, supported by his parents who also appeared remotely.

Sentencing

Judge Peter Rozen jailed him for up to eight years and 10 months.

“The vulnerability of the victim was significant, she was only 12 years of age,” the judge said.

“There was a significant gap in age … you were at least six years older than her and had been in previous relationships of a sexual nature.

“You knew what you were doing was very wrong.”

The court heard Clifton’s lawyers had argued his relationship with the child was consensual, which they claimed put his offending at mid-range.

Rozen rejected this, as the child was much younger than the age of sexual consent.

“The question of consent is irrelevant,” he said.

“The law reflects the community’s view that it is not until the age of 16 that a child has the psychological maturity and decision-making competence to agree to sexual activity.”

Clifton, who has already served almost three months of his sentence, must spend a minimum of five years and 10 months in prison before he can apply for parole.

He will be registered as a sex offender for life.

If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au.

In an emergency, call triple-0.

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