Tears As CCTV Of Kmart Child Abduction Played In Court
A Queensland man kidnapped a seven-year-old girl from a shopping centre and molested her in bushland in a brazen and predatory attack.
Sterling Mervyn Free, 27, lured the girl from Kmart at Westfield North Lakes, north of Brisbane, in December last year and sexually assaulted her in bushland.
He returned her to the shopping centre more than an hour later.
Free is being sentenced in Brisbane District Court on Tuesday after pleading guilty to deprivation of liberty, taking a child for immoral purposes and indecent treatment of a child under 12.
Members of the public gallery were in tears as footage of the abduction was played in court.
The footage shows Free milling around the toy section of Kmart for about 20 minutes around lunchtime.
Meanwhile, the girl goes from aisle to aisle while periodically returning to her mother.
Her and Free's interaction in an aisle is not shown on CCTV, but she follows him closely out of the store and centre.
He took her to bushland about 30 minutes away, into an area not visible from the road.
After molesting her, he returned her to the centre more than an hour later and footage shows the girl in the arms of her mother at the service desk.
Crown prosecutor Judy Geary labelled Free's offending brazen, determined, deliberate and predatory.
"He used her for his own sexual gratification," she said.
His semen was found on the girl's dress, the court heard.
The incident has had a "significant impact" on the girl, Geary said.
The sentencing hearing continues, but Judge Julie Dick has indicated she will hand down her sentence at a later date.