Jessica Kid, Hey Dad! star Robert Hughes loses appeal against sexual offence conviction, ABC News

Former Hey Dad! star Robert Hughes has lost his appeal against his conviction for sexual offences against four girls in the 1980s.

Key Points:

Robert Hughes loses appeal against sex offence conviction
Hughes will continue to serve term of at least six years in prison
Hughes believed trial was not fair due to posts on social media
Allegations of ill-treatment in prison to be referred to minister
Hughes tried to appeal his conviction for seven counts of indecent assault, two counts of sexual assault and one count of assault with an act of indecency.

The decision means Hughes will continue to serve his term of at least six years in prison.

The victims were aged between seven and 15 years old at the time of the offences, which were committed between 1985 and 1990.

He appealed his convictions in part because he believed he did not receive a fair trial due to “poisonous vilification” by people on social media.

His lawyer also argued that the conduct of the crown prosecutor, and the refusal of the trial judge to discharge the jury as a result, had led to a miscarriage of justice.

In their summary, Chief Justice Tom Bathurst and Justices Margaret Beazley and Paul Hidden said comments on social media should not impact a criminal trial.

“Changes to Australian society wrought by the digital revolution (including the rise of the internet and various forms of social media), and the consequent explosion in publicity about notable criminal trials should not diminish the commitment of the criminal justice system to trial by jury,” their summary read.

They also found that the trial judge acted within reason and found no error in the way the criminal trial was conducted.

While the Hughes’ appeal was dismissed, the court asked that allegations the 65-year-old had been ill-treated in prison be referred to the Minister and Commissioner for Corrective Services.

Outside court, lawyer Greg Walsh, said he welcomed the recommendation to review the treatment of his client while he is in custody.

“Any prisoner kept in conditions like Mr Hughes has been is a matter of real concern,” he said.

“He was physically assaulted on a number of occasions and he should never have been treated that way.

“It’s a place of punishment, prison, but it’s not a place where people should be dealt with in the way that he was — in such an inhumane way.”

Mr Walsh said Hughes would now consider whether there were grounds to appeal to the High Court of Australia.

One of Hughes’s victims was seven when she was indecently assaulted. Hughes put her hand on his genitals.

Another child was nine when Hughes told her to swim between his legs at Manly Beach. His swimmers were pulled down.

During the trial the court heard of sleepovers at Hughes’s home, where the actor would walk naked into the room where the girls were sleeping and expose himself to them.

Hughes denied this, saying he slept naked and often used the bathroom at night but would never walk into the room where the girls were staying.

The trial lasted almost six weeks.

During Hughes’s sentencing hearing, harrowing victim impact statements were delivered from women still suffering from the abuse they endured as girls.

One woman, now 37, said she would never have children because of Hughes, and had come to hate the word “dad”.

Another told the court that she wished Hughes “nothing but misery”.

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