Prison for babysitter

A BALLARAT man who got an 11-year-old he was babysitting pregnant was yesterday jailed for a minimum of five years.Matthew James Vernon, 29, had sex with the girl on two occasions while baby-sitting at the family home, the County Court in Ballarat heard. The girl's teachers and mother noticed a change to her body shape and she gave birth at just 12 years of age. Outside court the girl's mother said the family now had to look towards the future."I'm just so glad that it's all over now, that we can get on with our lives and put an end to that horrific situation," she said. "Nobody else is going to get hurt by him."The woman described finding out her daughter was pregnant as a "bombshell".She said the family would always support the girl and give her the opportunity to be a teenager.Her daughter now aged 14 said she thought Vernon should have received a longer sentence. "It's changed my life totally," she said."It's been really stressful but I've got though it."The girl said she would now be able to walk down the streets without feeling scared. "I'm glad that he's gone," she said. The girl's mother urged any children in similar circumstances to come forward and tell someone.Judge Margaret Rizkalla said Vernon had betrayed the trust of the girl's family who had incorporated the baby into their lives. "Her mother has taken on the mothering role," she said. "Their lives have been completely turned around."Judge Rizkalla said the girl was "torn between the world of being a mother and being a child of 14".She said Vernon was emotionally immature, had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and had also been diagnosed with depression. The court heard Vernon was now in a stable relationship and had fathered another baby.Defence lawyer Helen Spowart said Vernon had become suicidal while in custody and feared for his safety from other prisoners. Vernon pleaded guilty to three counts of digital penetration and one count of sexual penetration of a child under 16. He was convicted and sentenced to six and a half years in jail with a minimum non parole period of five years.