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Sex assault 'tore family apart'

John Greenalsh arrives with his wife at Bundaberg Magistrates Court, where he was sentenced for sexual assault.
John Greenalsh arrives with his wife at Bundaberg Magistrates Court, where he was sentenced for sexual assault.

A COUPLE whose teenage son was repeatedly sexually assaulted by a Bundaberg businessman has told how the crime tore their lives apart and turned the boy into a different person.

The shattered parents said they were dumbstruck yesterday when John Gerard Greenalsh, 52, of Thabeban, was given what they called “a slap on the wrist” by a magistrate after he pleaded guilty to two charges of sexual assault against their son.

Greenalsh was given 10 months' probation and a two-month suspended prison sentence in Bundaberg Magistrates Court.

Greenalsh kept his head bowed as Magistrate Jennifer Batts handed down her sentence and told him his crimes amounted to a “significant breach of trust”.

The court had previously heard Greenalsh put his hand down the teenager’s pants up to 16 times in one night, and did the same thing twice on a later occasion.

“Your actions demonstrably lacked insight and judgement,” she said.

Ms Batts ordered Greenalsh pay $500 compensation to his teenage victim, whose parents said no amount of money could ever repair the damage done to the once happy family.

“No amount of money will take away what he (Greenalsh) has done to our son,” the boy’s mum told the NewsMail.

“We have been 100% completely failed by the justice system.”

The victim’s mother described the terrible effect Greenalsh’s attacks had on her son, saying he went through stages of embarrassment, anger and disgust.

“He became very withdrawn and would shut himself in his room,” she said.

“He couldn’t even look himself in the mirror. Then he went through anger and punched holes in his bedroom walls. He scrubbed himself raw in the shower.”

The woman said her son was a boy of whom any parent would be proud.

“He changed,” she said. “(Greenalsh) changed him.”

The mother of three said Greenalsh had shattered the entire family.

“This has torn us apart,” she said.

“Our marriage is suffering and our daughter has had to suffer my anger and guilt.”

Magistrate Jennifer Batts did not put Greenalsh on the sex offender register, saying his therapeutic treatment indicated he did not seem to be at further risk of offending.

But the victim’s parents said they felt this ruling had let them and other families down.

“As parents, we need to protect our children,” the mum said.

“This is no deterrent for people out there who do wrong.”

The victim’s father said the family would now try to pick up the pieces of their life.

“It has torn us apart but we will just take it one day at a time and be there for our son,” he said.

“We will be there and support him the best way we can.”


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