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An elderly Australian man found guilty of sexually abusing a young girl more than 30 years ago responded to the jury’s verdict by taking a poisoned Snickers bar from his pocket and biting into it.
The poison damaged his kidneys, and he injured his shoulder and dislocated a finger as he fell down in the dock, but the 76-year-old’s attempt to escape justice failed.
After months of treatment following his apparent suicide attempt, he survived and now faces a decade behind bars for his crimes.
The case echoes that of the convicted Bosnian Croat war criminal Slobodan Praljak, who stood up in the dock and drank a fatal shot of poison after losing an appeal at the Yugoslav war crimes court in The Hague in 2017.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the Australian man—who has not been named to protect his victim—began abusing the girl in rural Victoria after the death of her father when she was just 4 years old. Prosecutors said that abuse continued for a decade and he threatened to kill her other family members if she told anyone.
“I was the scared little girl who cried herself to sleep, wishing my father came back to save me,” the woman said in a victim statement she read to the court at the sentencing hearing. “My adulthood is still tormented by your insanity… My entire childhood, I was groomed and abused.”
The Herald said the man quietly took the candy bar from his pocket as the jury started to deliver its verdict three months ago. He was found guilty of two counts of sexual penetration of a child under 16 and two counts of committing indecent acts with a child under 16.
“The moment that first guilty charge was read out, that’s when he consumed the Snickers bar,” defence lawyer Fraser Cameron told Victoria County Court. “He was fearful.”