The now 78-year-old admitted committing 43 offences of a sexual nature against eight grandchildren and step-grandchildren from 2002 until 2018.
Other than this offending, the Vietnam veteran had lived a good life, Brisbane District Court Judge Vicki Loury said on Wednesday as she sentenced him to 13 years behind bars.
The man – who cannot be named to protect the identities of the victims – retired from the army after two decades having “served our country with distinction”.
He was married for 56 years until his wife died in 2018.
But he became a very heavy drinker after returning to Australia from the war and began self-medicating against post-traumatic stress symptoms.
The court heard he maintained a sexual relationship with five girls, one for seven-and-a-half years.
Two girls were three years old when his offending began.
His crimes included digital penetration, performing oral sex and exposing some girls to him committing sexual offences on others.
One woman said she was 24 when she learnt she wasn’t alone as he was also responsible for “repulsive actions” on her cousins.
“In that moment when the offender decided that it was OK to touch, to abuse, to rape a child he lost his right to call himself a human being,” she told the court by video-link.
“He had us all fooled and it’s very disappointing that he will now die an old man – having lived a life that was completely and utterly empty – unloved and exposed as the monster that he is.”
Judge Loury said the victims had spoken “poignantly of feelings of shame, a lack of trust of others, depression, anxiety, self-harming behaviour, suicidal ideation, nightmares, a drug addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder”.
She said his children and grandchildren have had no contact with him since his offending came to light, but loved him and spoke of the betrayal and grief they had experienced.
“Some of them have acknowledged that they are torn between the love that they felt for you and their acknowledgement and knowledge of the terrible atrocities you committed against so many of them,” Judge Loury told the man.
She applauded the courage of one girl who disclosed the offending to a school friend.
“(That) set the wheels in motion for all of your offending to be uncovered,” she told the man.
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