Jeffrey Bishop found guilty of sexually abusing young girl 15 years after she first told WA Police

Key points:

  • The victim cried tears of relief after the judge found Bishop guilty on all counts
  • She told police about the abuse in 2005 but no charges were laid
  • When officers spoke to Bishop at the time, he said the girl was "touchy feely"

A man has been found guilty of sexually abusing a girl he used to babysit, 15 years after the allegations were first raised.

Jeffrey George Bishop, a family friend of the girl, was not charged until 2017, despite police initially being told about the abuse in 2005.

There was an outpouring of emotion in a Perth court and the victim — now aged 23 — cried tears of relief on Friday after the judge found Bishop guilty on 10 counts.

Outside court, the victim's mother said she was pleased.

"Astounded after 15 years, finally justice has been served," she said.

During Bishop's trial last month, the WA District Court heard he was not charged in 2005 because there was no "particularisation of conduct".

The court was told the allegations were first raised by the girl when she was on her way to Bishop's house, when she told her mother she did not want to go and why.

The court was also shown three police interviews from 2005, during which the then-eight-year-old, sometimes holding a teddy bear, provided details about the abuse and said Bishop gave her pills.

But at one point, she said that she did not want to tell them what happened, causing one of the interviewers to say "we can't sit here all day" and "we're trying very, very hard to help you".

Girl was 'touchy feely', Bishop claimed

In 2005, Bishop denied abusing the girl but said he did give her sleeping pills because she would act sexually towards him.

Bishop, who was then in his 40s, told WA Police the girl saw him as a "father figure".

A mid-shot of an older man walking along the footpath outside court in Perth's CBD wearing a striped shirt and sports jacket.
Bishop abused the girl at his home between 2001 and 2005 while he babysat her.(ABC News: David Weber)

He claimed she went through a "touchy feely" stage, would do "rude things to him" and would lie on top of him naked.

He also said she would "hunt him like a dog".

More than 10 years later, the victim made a further statement, and Bishop was eventually charged in 2017.

Trial delayed after 'extraordinary' failures

Bishop was meant to go to trial before a jury in May, 2019, but a series of failures prevented it, leading to a scathing assessment by Judge Mark Herron.

The counsel who was briefed for the matter said he only had three days to prepare, with hours of video footage to review.

A crest on a wall outside the Perth Central Law Courts.
A trial was initially set down for last year but did not go ahead after a series of failures.(ABC)

An investigating officer was also on extended sick leave and had hoped to be excused even though the defence said she was needed.

It turned out she was overseas.

Judge Herron was strongly critical of the lack of preparation, also referring to the fact that editing of interviews had not been completed.

He said the trial could not proceed "because nobody at the DPP office has properly managed this matter and ensured it's in a position to proceed with a trial".

"It's extraordinary that the investigating officer is overseas and may not even have been served with a summons," he said.

"Certainly, I would expect somebody from the DPP is in a position to respond to all of this [and] needs to provide an explanation to the court why we've got to this position."

Defence lawyer Linda Black said the officer's failure to attend was a "fundamental breach" of requirements and duties.

Abuse took place over five years

The trial finally went ahead in June, with prosecutor Michael Cvetkoski acting for the state, before Judge John Staude sitting in the District Court without a jury.

Bishop, now 62, was facing 10 offences, including multiple counts of penetration of a child under the age of 13, covering the period from 2001 to 2005.

The court heard detailed descriptions of the abuse, which occurred in Bishop's home.

The victim told the court she felt uncomfortable at times during the interviews in 2005 and "didn't want to be there".

She said she used to write stories and draw pictures instead of verbalising it.

Judge Staude said he found the complainant believable and did not accept Bishop's denials.

The victim's mother said despite the long delays in the case reaching court, she was grateful.

"The state did come through," she said.

"Give credit where credit is due."

Judge Staude remanded Bishop in custody and scheduled him to be sentenced in August.


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