Coach who touched girl was a 'simpleton'

·3-min read

A Sydney tennis coach who has pleaded guilty to touching a young girl was a "simpleton" who may have been suffering from a brain injury or dementia at the time, a court has been told.

On Thursday, psychiatrist Dr Olav Nielssen said it was likely that Raymond Younan, 71, was mentally impaired when he committed a string of sexual offences including touching a 12-year-old girl in late 2019.

Giving evidence during a sentence hearing at Sydney's Downing Centre, Dr Nielssen said it was likely Younan had suffered a frontal lobe injury from a heart attack in May 2018 or was experiencing a slow deterioration from dementia.

"I mean he was a simpleton from early life. Any damage is not going to help his social performance and social function including following social rules and so on," he told District Court Judge Kara Shead.

In a report filed in the court, Dr Nielssen said the Lindfield man's mental capacity likely played a role in the offences that took place from May to December 2019.

The psychiatrist met with family members including nephew Daniel Younan who described a decline in his uncle's mental state since the heart attack.

In a session with Dr Nielssen, Younan showed poor judgement and inhibition, the court heard.

This, as well as medical tests such as MRI scans revealing a generalised shrinking of the brain, showed the tennis coach could have suffered a hypoxic brain injury after the cardiac arrest or had dementia.

The doctor also said a term of imprisonment would impact Younan more than other elderly men, saying that prisons were not well equipped to take care of inmates who had dementia.

Arrested in December 2019, Younan was hit with 33 charges, including 26 counts of intentionally sexually touching a child and seven counts of inciting a child to sexually touch.

Under cross-examination by prosecutor Danielle Mansour, Dr Nielssen admitted that Younan's mental condition could have been better in 2019 and worsened by the time the psychological assessment took place in March 2021.

Ms Mansour pointed out that the tennis coach had gone to great lengths to ensure the victim was isolated, sending the other kids on errands so they were alone and sharing a room together.

Younan knew what he was doing was wrong because he lied about why he needed to share a room with the victim, and then lied to police about the offences, the prosecutor said.

"His knowledge of wrongfulness as well as his level of planning - that's inconsistent with a gross impairment of social judgement, isn't it?" Ms Mansour asked.

Dr Neilssen replied that the act of committing the offences itself showed a gross impairment which was highlighted during his session with Younan in March 2021.

"He was trying to justify (his actions) when I spoke to him which shows a complete unawareness of how another person might look at it," the doctor said.

"Admittedly, he was pretty impaired by the time he got to see me. Things had gone downhill. He sort of lacked a capacity for logical thinking."

Judge Shead will hand down sentence on July 29.

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