Dramatic scenes played out in a Geraldton court this week when the loved ones of two siblings who were sexually assaulted by their mother’s ex-partner told the abuser he would be a “dead dog” when he was released from prison. The 37-year-old Geraldton man on Monday pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual penetration of a child under the age of 13, with the incidents occurring sometime between June 2018 and June 2019. Defence counsel Eva Svanberg told Geraldton District Court the matter was initially expected to go to trial, but the father of three later changed his plea because he “didn’t want the victims to have to give evidence in court”. The court was told the man had been in a “toxic” relationship with the victims’ mother for about four years, with both parties using drugs during that time. When one of the victims was aged three or four, the man assaulted her while she was sleeping next to her sister. On another occasion he assaulted his then-girlfriend’s other daughter while she was watching television, telling the child his actions were to remain “secret”. Several seated in the courtroom sobbed when details of the offences were revealed, with one woman screaming at the man before running out of court. Ms Svanberg said the man claimed to have no memory of the event and was “disgusted at the thought of what he has done”. She said the man appeared “genuinely remorseful” but he understood a sentence of imprisonment was “inevitable”. MORE NEWS According to victim impact statements made by the girls’ mother and grandmother, the children were “happy, carefree, bubbly and alive” before the assaults but were now withdrawn and required counselling. Judge Christopher Stevenson said the children were “entitled to grow up in a loving environment” and had “lost the ability to trust others” because of the actions of a “sexual predator”. He described the man’s behaviour as “opportunistic” and “brazen”, with the plea to one of the girls to keep the assault a secret demonstrating “an element of grooming”. The charges carry a maximum term of 20 years jail, but the man was sentenced to three years behind bars and made eligible for parole. Before he was taken into immediate custody, the man was threatened by three people in the courtroom who called him a “dead dog” who “ruined our babies’ lives”. Another woman expressed disbelief that the man would not be in jail for longer. “Three years ... that’s all he gets,” she said. The sentence was backdated to October 17 to account for time already spent in custody. He was issued a lifetime violence restraining order preventing him coming into contact with the victims.