Australian couple jailed over brutal abuse of daughter

The couple cannot be named (supplied)
The couple cannot be named (supplied)

An Australian couple who abused and raped their athlete daughter for 14 years have been jailed - the father for 48 years, the mother 16.

Judge Sarah Huggett called their crimes "depravity of an almost unimaginable magnitude".

Earlier Judge Huggett said she had to suspend her "natural feelings as a human" to hear the case and prepare the couple's sentences.

"I have no doubt at all that for many years of her life the victim was confused, helpless and terrified by what occurred outside of the public eye and in the privacy of her home," Judge Huggett told the court.

"Looking carefully at all circumstances pertaining to the father I have no doubt at all that all his conduct was deliberate, determined and premeditated. He deliberately conditioned his daughter using psychological, emotional and psychological means to the point she would have come to expect he would abuse her as and when he wished."

The couple, who have not been named, were found guilty of the horrific crimes earlier this year. The father was convicted of 73 child sex offences and mother of 13 charges, including indecent assault.

The abuse of the young woman, who had dreams of becoming an Olympic athlete, began in 1997 when she was only five years old, Australian media reported.

Her father - who once qualified for the Olympics himself - regularly tied her up in a chicken coop on their rural property, leaving her there for days.

He would rape her, dunk her head in a nearby stream, beat her with metal tools and lock her in a box meant to be used for sporting gear.

When she was 14 her father thought she might be pregnant, so he used a medicine ball to hit her in the stomach 60 times.

Her mother helped him cover up the abuse, and gave the girl advice on how to please her father.

When the abuse was reported to police in 2012, they found messages scrawled on the chicken coop's wooden frames in the daughter's blood, saying: "trapped", "dad" and "mum is coming".

The girl had tried to flee a number of times, but either returned - fearful for her own life - or was captured, raped and put back in the chicken coop.

"I can do what I want to you," the father had reportedly told her. "I own you. I'll make you suffer. I'll leave you tied up in the shed and let you rot."