- Laurie Yeeda, 52, admitted to raping and abusing four children between 1994 and 2017
- Court told Yeeda used power to isolate and abuse victims
- Judge Gillian Braddock jailed Yeeda for nine-and-a-half years
An East Kimberley man from a family 'synonymous with the cattle industry' has been jailed for nine-and-a-half years for a series of sex offences against children.
Laurie Yeeda, 52, appeared by video link in the Perth District Court from Kununurra Courthouse yesterday.
In November he pleaded guilty to 16 charges, including indecent dealings and rape, against four different victims between 1994 and 2017.
The court heard the victims were aged between 10 and 15 years at the time of the offences.
Prosecutor Caja Polglase said the offending was ongoing and persistent and involved a degree of premeditation.
The court heard in some cases he had preyed on his victims while they were sleeping, and therefore when they were particularly vulnerable, or he had arranged to be alone with them.
In one instance he tried to bribe a victim with cigarettes.
She said there were also significant age discrepancies between Yeeda and his victims, and the offending demonstrated a serious breach of trust.
"There was a pronounced power imbalance between the victim and the offender," she said.
Three victim impact statements submitted to the court stated the victims were still dealing with the trauma many years later.
Defence lawyer Ben White acknowledged the seriousness of the charges and said there were few mitigating factors.
He told the court his client had a difficult childhood and was exposed to alcohol abuse and domestic violence, but he had worked all his life since the age of 14.
He said his client had spent a large portion of his life working across the Kimberley and the Northern Territory as a ringer on cattle stations.
Mr White said the Yeeda name was synonymous with the cattle industry, and noted that his client and his brother, Robin, were heavily involved with Lamboo Cattle Station west of Halls Creek.
The court heard several of Yeeda's relatives still supported him despite the offending.
Yeeda pleaded guilty to the charges, but Mr White acknowledged this was after a trial date had been set.
He said the lower life expectancy for Aboriginal people should also be a factor when sentencing.
Judge Gillian Braddock said the charges were "extraordinarily serious."
"You committed these acts against these girls without any concern for their welfare or their rights," she said.
"You set this up so that these children were with you, alone or you crept up on them when they were sleeping in bed, and you did to them what you thought you would enjoy, [with] no regard for them at all."
The court heard he had also been convicted in 1988 for sexual offences against a 14-year-old.
Judge Braddock sentenced him to a total of nine-and-a-half years imprisonment for the 16 charges, with the sentence backdated to January 2019 to reflect time already spent in custody.
He will be eligible for parole after seven and a half years.