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Vic man free over kidnap, attempted rape

AAP logoAAP 12/10/2016

A man who as a teenager tried to rape a 13-year-old girl in a Melbourne public toilet has avoided jail after he was sentenced for the crime 31 years after it happened.

Binh Van Le, 47, was on Wednesday given a suspended sentence in the Victorian County Court after pleading guilty to charges from 1985 of kidnap and attempted sexual penetration of a person under 16.

Le was given an 18-month suspended sentence by judge Jane Patrick in accordance with the laws that would have applied to a youth offender 31 years ago.

Judge Patrick said a series of bungles had resulted in police losing track of Le.

"It is a disgrace on the justice system that you were not brought to account for your crimes until so many years later," she said.

Le and two other males had dragged the girl from a tram stop to a public toilet on March 2, 1985.

While one male stood watch outside the toilet, Le forced the girl into a cubicle and stripped her naked while another male held her arms.

Le then got on top of the girl and tried to rape her.

"Fortunately, you got no further than attempted penetration," said Judge Patrick.

"This appears to be because you ejaculated, rather than because you had any change of heart."

Le then left the toilet and as the second male began pulling his pants down, police arrived, prompting all three attackers to flee.

Le was arrested on the same day and identified by the victim.

Police lost track of Le some months later and were told the teen had moved to Sydney.

But he was still living in Melbourne and despite coming into contact with police several times during the next two decades, the rape case was never resolved.

"There is no explanation as to why the matter was not pursued," Judge Patrick said.

When cold case detectives reopened the case in 2012 with the help of DNA, Le was identified and brought to court.

Judge Patrick says she believes Le's rehabilitation over the 1985 attempted rape had already been achieved.

He has already served three separate terms of imprisonment, none of them for sexual offences.

Le had turned his life around from a heroin addiction and related criminal offending, and was now married with three children and working full-time, the court was told.

"I accept that you are genuinely remorseful and ashamed of your conduct as a boy," said Judge Patrick.

But she warned Le that if he committed an offence over the next 18 months, he would be brought back to court for re-sentencing.

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