Father of 'child bride' granted bail under new laws

A father accused of marrying off his 12-year-old daughter during an Islamic ceremony was granted bail under softened bail laws on Monday despite a magistrate describing the case against him as ‘‘abhorrent, disgusting and disgraceful’’.

Magistrate Margaret Quinn told a Sydney court the man, 62, was an ‘‘unacceptable risk’’ to the community and had a history of interfereing with witnesses but she released him from custody under new bail laws.

The father of seven, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is accused of allowing his daughter to ‘‘marry’’ and have sex with a 26-year-old Lebanese man who was visiting Australia on a student visa.

‘‘The facts are so abhorrent. They are disgusting and disgraceful,’’ Magistrate Quinn told Burwood Local Court.

‘‘He has no regard for the laws of NSW.

‘‘I do find him to be an unacceptable risk.’’

Despite telling the court there was not a set of facts more ‘‘serious in recent times’’, she said she had to take into account mitigating factors under the controversial new NSW Bail Act.

Under new legislation, the presumption against bail for serious offences has been removed. This means people in custody can re-apply for bail if previous risks can be mitigated by strict bail conditions.

Magistrate Quinn also expressed concerns the accused had allegedly told police he would also allow his eight-year-old daughter to be married to avoid having sex out of wedlock.

‘‘It’s a sexual intercourse ceremony, it’s not a marriage,’’ she said.

‘‘Why were they sleeping on the floor together and having sexual intercourse?’’

Documents previously tendered to the court allege the father allowed his daughter to ‘‘marry’’ a university student at his house near Newcastle in January this year.

He also allegedly gave her sexual advice and arranged for a queen-sized bed in which they could sleep.

‘‘The advice was that she should not use the contraceptive pill nor should [her husband] wear a condom when they have sexual intercourse,’’ the documents said.

But the father was released from jail after Magistrate Quinn imposed strict bail conditions that would ‘‘mitigate’’ his risks of offending or interfering with witnesses.

He is not allowed to enter two mosques in the Newcastle region, nor contact his daughter or live with anyone under the age of 16.

‘‘The facts before me are most unattractive.

‘‘Any breach of those orders and you will be going straight to prison,’’ Magistrate Quinn said in a raised voice to the accused.

The man accused of ‘‘marrying’’ the child bride has been charged with 25 counts of having sexual intercourse with a child aged under 14.

He was granted bail earlier this year but remains in Villawood Detention Centre after his student visa was revoked.

A Muslim cleric who conducted the illegal Islamic ceremony pleaded guilty in April this year and was fined $500 before being deported to Pakistan.

The victim’s father and ‘‘husband’’ are due to appear in court in July, where it is expected they will waive their right to a committal hearing.

The child bride and her eight-year-old sister are being cared for by the Department of Family and Community Services.

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