A predator who kidnapped and raped an 11-year-old girl in a five-hour attack has begun the process of appealing his 17-year prison term.
Brett David Hill has filed a notice of intention to appeal against the severity of the sentence with the New South Wales Court of Criminal Appeal.
Hill was armed with a pair of scissors when he snatched the girl on her way to school in Newcastle 19 months ago and raped her at three separate locations.
He was jailed by a NSW District Court judge for a maximum 23 years and six months in December, with a non-parole term of 17 years.
The girl Hill raped had described to the court how he ruined her childhood, left her in permanent fear of strangers and made her consider killing herself.
Judge Roy Ellis said Hill’s criminality was extreme and the offender had shown no sympathy, empathy or compassion during the prolonged attacks on the girl.
The 49-year-old has been assaulted several times since being in custody and will be eligible for release in 2035 when he is 64.
Hill had been binging on pornography and smoking synthetic cannabis before he abducted the girl but could not explain his crimes.
‘That is the big question with me, is why I did such a thing,’ he told a psychiatrist.
Hill abducted the girl as she walked through Hudson Park at Adamstown Heights about 9.15am on June 12, 2018.
She gave Hill a false name and told him she was ten; Hill later said he had estimated she was 11 or 12.
He described how as soon as he first indecently assaulted the girl she had tried to save herself from further attack by using a secret code word.
‘I touched her and she said “unicorn”, which she explained was what she said when she thought she was about to be hurt,’ Hill told the psychiatrist.
The father-of-three spent the next five hours sexually and indecently assaulting the girl before releasing her at Kotara railway station about 2.15pm.
During the rapes the girl had asked Hill: ‘Can I please go to school?’ and ‘Are we done yet?’ He replied: ‘No, we’re not done yet.’
Hill told the psychiatrist he had split from the mother of his children the previous year and was living in a backpackers hostel at Hamilton when he abducted the girl.
He had no friends, was using drugs and had taken to regularly watching pornography featuring underage girls on his phone.
‘I woke up that morning… I had drunk a lot the night before,’ Hill said, according to a report tendered to court.
‘I remember sitting on the lounge. I remember going out and smoking half a joint of a homemade synthetic stuff. It affected me so I don’t remember what I did.
‘I remember being at the park and that a girl was underneath me. I had her come to the car with me. She just walked with me. I told her I would bring her back.
‘I drove her around for half an hour or 40 minutes. I took her to some bushland. I told her to get her gear off.’
Hill had told his terrified victim, ‘I have a knife, I’ll kill you’, ‘Be quiet or I’ll punch you really hard’, and ‘Shut up or I’ll suffocate you’.
When he had finished assaulting the girl he put a plastic bag over her head, dropped her at the train station and told her to walk the rest of the way home.
The girl was able to give police a detailed description of her attacker, which helped lead to his arrest at Hamilton four days later.
She said he had short, messy, dark hair, a chubby face and hands, and was wearing a black and blue hoodie with blue jeans and beige shoes at the time.
He had cracked lips, his lower teeth were stained brown and he had wrinkles around his mouth and forehead.
She remembered him smelling of cigarette smoke or body odour, and speaking with an Australian accent. Her bravery, composure and resilience were praised by investigators.
Hill eventually plead guilty to seven counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child under 16, one count of aggravated kidnapping and possessing child abuse material.
Before Hill was sentenced the girl, now 13, confronted him with a victim impact statement which she read out in court with her mother and pet dog by her side.
‘It is important that you hear what I have to say to you,’ the girl began as she faced the prisoner. ‘I have been waiting for this day to tell you how I feel and how you have affected my life.’
‘Today, tomorrow and years ahead, I will be scarred and never cured. I may look strong and brave on the outside but on the inside I’m breaking down.
‘I feel like I’m on a rollercoaster, going up and falling back down.’
The girl told Hill she had been a happy child who loved life and was scared of nothing before he violated her.
‘Before all this happened, I was carefree, happy, excited,’ the girl told her attacker. ‘I used to think I was pretty and be a confident person. I was scared of nothing.
‘My life was so happy back then. I used to walk around town with a big smile. I loved my life and my world was safe. I had nothing to worry about.’
The girl told Hill she was now so fearful she was scared to even walk her dog.
She suffers constant flashbacks – reliving the day when she was frozen, numb and helpless and wanted to die.
‘That day started with me going to school like I did every other morning,’ she told her rapist. ‘I was excited to see my friends. You kidnapped and raped me. My life as I knew it is forever changed.
‘Every night I lie awake and look around my room. I can’t sleep and my body will be shaking.
‘I see your face everywhere in places that should be safe, like when I play sport, in class, at home. I get so distressed and upset. I feel like my life is threatened over and over again.
‘I have had suicidal thoughts because I want the pain to stop and to be in control of my thoughts and my feelings. I will deal with this for the rest of my life.’
The girl said when she got older there would be time when she might have a boyfriend but she would struggle to trust anyone. To cope with the horrific crimes committed against her she snuggled and talked to her dog.
‘I have come a long way from when this first happened and I have achieved and survived a lot,’ she told Hill.
‘But, I often feel like a damaged girl. I have noticed it gets harder and harder as I get older because I understand more. You violated me on that long day but it it has impacted the rest of my life.
‘You took away my safety and my life as I knew it. But I survived and I am holding you accountable.
‘You will have to live with what you did to me. I can never forgive you.’
As the rapist was led away from court the girl’s father yelled at him: ‘I hope you burn in hell, you scum.’
Hill has six months from December 23 when he filed the notice of intention to appeal to launch the action, which would include providing grounds.
‘IT IS IMPORTANT THAT YOU HEAR WHAT I HAVE TO SAY’: THE WORDS OF AUSTRALIA’S BRAVEST GIRL…
It is important that you hear what I have to say to you. I have been waiting for this day to tell you how I feel and how you have affected my life. This is what I want to say to you.
I was only 11 when you changed my life forever. You have had a huge impact on me, on my whole family and on my whole life. Today, tomorrow and years ahead, I will be scarred and never cured. I may look strong and brave on the outside but on the inside I’m breaking down. I feel like I’m on a rollercoaster, going up and falling back down.
Before all this happened I was carefree, happy, excited. I used to think I was pretty and be a confident person. I was scared of nothing. My life was so happy back then. I used to walk around town with a big smile. I loved my life and my world was safe. I had nothing to worry about. I had heard about sexual assault but I never thought it could happen to me. But you changed that.
I feel like as time goes on and I get older, the sky gets gloomier and darker into a dark hole. I can’t find my way out. You stole my body that day but you also stole my happiness and life as I knew it.
That day started with me going to school like I did every other morning. I was excited to see my friends. You kidnapped and raped me. My life as I knew it is forever changed.
I have so many emotions and I don’t know what to do with them. You gave me sadness. I am often too scared and insecure to walk my dog. I frequently have flashbacks and nightmares, where I feel as if I am re-living the kidnapping and sexual assaults again. I feel frozen, numb and in intense panic.
Every night I lie awake and look around my room. I can’t sleep and my body will be shaking. I see your face everywhere in places that should be safe, like when I play sport, in class, at home. I get so distressed and upset. I feel like my life is threatened over and over again.
I have taken days off school because of my mental health. I now have trouble concentrating. I can’t focus on what I am doing without getting distracted by worrying about what you did to me. I have experienced so much pain and sadness. I haven’t been able to cope. I have had suicidal thoughts because I want the pain to stop and to be in control of my thoughts and my feelings. I will deal with this for the rest of my life.
I hate who I am today and the fact this happened to me. I questioned ‘why me’. But there is no reason or answer or excuse for what you did to me. I was frozen, frightened, terrified, powerless and helpless. I couldn’t fight back. I feared for my life and my survival. I didn’t want to survive at the time, I just wanted my life and for what you were doing to be over.
I feel so insecure and trapped in my crazy body. I can’t seem to find a way out. It’s so hard living in the same body that it happened to. You kidnapped and raped me. My body was violated by you. It makes me feel physically sick. Every day I look at myself in my reflection and then 100 thoughts run through my mind. I have a massive invisible scar written across my face but no one will every know until I drop to pieces.
You don’t realise how much pressure is on my every time I just walk by any person or stranger. I feel unsafe and petrified. I’m scared someone is gong to take me and do it all over again. My world is not safe because of you.
I have needed to grow up, faster than other kids my age. I have had to speak to police, be interviewed multiple times, have medical examinations, go to counselling and go to court.
To cope with the horrific abuse you did to me, I snuggle and talk to my dog [dog’s name]. But mostly I struggle to control my feelings. I take it out on my Mum. Because of what you did to me I hold lots of anger. I sometimes imagine your face on my opposition team in sport and physically take my anger out at this time. It’s hard to control my anger.
At times I may feel uncomfortable around my friends. We have built a strong connection because I have needed them to talk to. But I feel like I am only known because of what has happened to me. I try to be happy and try to enjoy myself. But when I’m by myself, I get ugly thoughts. I feel stupid. I feel dumb and I become unhappy if someone says the slightest criticism about me or anything. I take it really to heart and feel really insecure. I wasn’t like this before.
As I gradually get older by year and year, there is going to be a time I might have a boyfriend. I am scared. I struggle to trust anyone. Having an unsafe or abusive relationship horrifies me. I see it on the news and in the newspaper. I have already been through so much already. It would kill me to go through something traumatic like this again.
I have come a long way from when this first happened and I have achieved and survived a lot. But, I often feel like a damaged girl. I have noticed it gets harder and harder as I get older because I understand more. You violated me on that long day but it has impacted the rest of my life.
You took away my safety and my life as I knew it. But I survived and I am holding you accountable. You will have to live with what you did to me. I can never forgive you.