PETITION: The legal system has let down the family of a child raped by a 35-year-old man in Mackay, their lawyer has argued. Generic image used
PETITION: The legal system has let down the family of a child raped by a 35-year-old man in Mackay, their lawyer has argued. Generic image used

Legal system failed child rape victim, lawyer claims

THE legal system has let down the family of a child raped by a 35-year-old man in Mackay, their lawyer has argued.

Rogelio Acosta Ruiz will be released from jail next year after orally raping the girl, who was eight years old at the time.

Ruiz was jailed for three years on November 6 this year with the sentence to be suspended after 12 months.

Because the 35-year-old had already spent nine months in pre-sentence custody, he will walk free in February next year.

The lawyer for the victim's family, Katherine Cora, has urged the community to support a petition recently lodged in the Queensland parliament calling on the government to appeal the sentence.

Ms Cora has criticised the handling of the case, saying "many factors" had not been properly addressed, which warranted an appeal.

She said the family's first language was not English, they did not understand the processes of Australia's judicial system or the importance of a victim impact statement.

"It should raise red flags if a victim impact statement isn't provided," Ms Cora said.

CALL FOR TOUGHER SENTENCE: The lawyer for the victim's family, Katherine Cora
CALL FOR TOUGHER SENTENCE: The lawyer for the victim's family, Katherine Cora

"Ultimately they didn't understand the gravity of the impact it would have made.

"(The family) had the idea that the police would guide them through the situation, however again, they didn't know what processes were involved and that they needed a legal representative."

Ms Cora said she had only been engaged by the family to represent them after sentencing had already occurred.

She said a victim impact statement would have affected the judge's determination.

"There are a lot of departments that need (to be aware of this) so they can improve their systems and procedures so another family doesn't go through this again," Ms Cora said.

She was joined Opposition Attorney-General spokesman David Janetzki and Whitsunday LNP candidate Amanda Camm in Mackay yesterday to speak out against the "weak" sentence handed to Ruiz.

Ms Camm said she was concerned that all the facts of the case had not been fully heard.

"(The victim's family) need the opportunity to have this case appealed, so that all of the facts can be brought forward and then a just sentencing can occur," she said.

Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath has until this Friday to appeal the sentence.

Ms D'Ath said she was considering the advice provided by the DPP about the prospects of an appeal.


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