A Gold Coast grandfather who travelled overseas to sexually abuse a young teenage girl and urged her to recruit her friends so he could "take their virginity" will spend at least two and half years behind bars.

Rex George Harrison, 66, sexually abused the 14-year-old after meeting her in a bar in the Phillipines, the Brisbane Supreme Court was told this morning.

He returned to the country twice to meet up with the girl, paying her as little as $14 after the abuse which continued back in Australia where he sent her "highly-sexualised" messages.

Rex George Harrison awaits sentence outside Brisbane Supreme Court. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled
Rex George Harrison awaits sentence outside Brisbane Supreme Court. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled


Commonwealth prosecutor Jessica Goldie said on one occasion Harrison asked the girl to set him up with one of her 13-year-old friends saying he wanted to take the virginity of someone who "was not very developed".

The Australian Federal Police arrested Harrison as he attempted to board a flight back to the Philippines in October 2017.

Detectives discovered he had also sent messages to two other teenagers, aged 16 and 17, who he had asked to send graphic images of them naked.

Ms Goldie said Harrison used emotional manipulation and threats to get one of the victims to send up to 19 photographs to him over the course of six weeks.

Harrison appeared in Brisbane Supreme Court on Wednesday morning where he pleaded guilty to persistent sexual abuse of a child outside Australia between October 2016 and August 2017.

He also pleaded guilty to possessing child exploitation material, using a carriage service to transmit child exploitation material and using a carriage service to cause child exploitation material to be transmitted.

Rex George Harrison was sentenced to six and a half years’ jail. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled
Rex George Harrison was sentenced to six and a half years’ jail. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled


The court was told that the youngest victim who had been repeatedly preyed on by Harrison had dropped out of school and had been too embarrassed to tell her family about the abuse.

"She says the event has brought her nothing but heartache and she cries every time she thinks about it," Justice John Bond said.

Barrister Mark McCarthy said Harrison, who was born in Sri Lanka, was a father of three and grandfather of four who had worked as a chef in luxury hotels in Brisbane the Gold Coast.

The court heard his marriage had broken down in 2006 after 30 years and he had issues with alcoholism.

Justice Bond said his offending was "persistent and predatory" and took advantage of the power imbalance between himself and the girls who were young and impoverished.

"Your victims were particularly vulnerable to sexual exploitation because of their age and relatively disadvantaged economic circumstances," he said.

Harrison was sentenced to six and a half years' jail.

He will be eligible for parole after serving two and a half years behind bars.

*For 24-hour sexual violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636.

Originally published as Grandfather jailed for 'predatory' abuse of girls overseas


Crippling Chinese tariffs spark fears for South Burnett wine

Premium Content Crippling Chinese tariffs spark fears for South Burnett wine

WITH wineries central to tourism in the South Burnett, new Chinese tariffs could...

OPINION: Why we need to talk about mental health

Premium Content OPINION: Why we need to talk about mental health

THIS week the South Burnett Times will be launching a mental health...

SUICIDE EPICENTRE: Data reveals Burnett‘s dark problem

Premium Content SUICIDE EPICENTRE: Data reveals Burnett‘s dark problem

AFTER 16 months, a South Burnett family is still searching for answers after losing...