Defence lawyer Hannah Phillips' client Montagu campground abductor Cecil Maurice Mabb is remorseful, she says

MONTAGU: The Montagu Campground, west of Smithton, on the day after the kidnapping of the child. It is a popular recreation and family escape, over which a dark cloud has been cast since that day in January. Picture: Sandy Powell
MONTAGU: The Montagu Campground, west of Smithton, on the day after the kidnapping of the child. It is a popular recreation and family escape, over which a dark cloud has been cast since that day in January. Picture: Sandy Powell

The man who abducted and assaulted a five-year-old girl understands why someone burnt down his home, his lawyer has said.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court in Burnie, on Tasmania's north-west coast, heard shocking revelations that Cecil Maurice Mabb, 42, had said he abducted the child from the Montagu campground "so he could eat her".

The court also heard that he referred to himself as a paedophile, but he had no intention of sexually assaulting the child when he picked her up by the legs and carried her to his car on January 24.

Mabb has been in custody since January 25, and Crown prosecutor Yolanda Prenc said Mabb told police two days later that he "wanted a cuddle".

"I never meant to be that person. I just wanted some company. I wanted a cuddle from someone," Ms Prenc said, repeating Mabb's words.

"She's going to be traumatised forever now. She'll never recover. That's my fault."

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Defence lawyer Hannah Phillips told the court Mabb's home, a caravan and shed on a block of land at Rosebery, had been destroyed in an arson attack while he has been in custody.

"He understands why someone would feel that way and do that to his possessions," Ms Phillips said.

Ms Prenc said Mabb abducted the child for up to 15 minutes before releasing her, and in that time he strangled her and beat her.

The alarm went up around the campsite when the girl's friend, a four-year-old boy who had been with her when she was taken, returned to the camp.

The court heard the boy had pleaded with Mabb to let the girl go as she screamed, but then walked the 400m back to the camp and told his parents "the man got [her]".

In the interview with police, Mabb said the boy was "the real hero".

"He followed me. He told me to let her go."

The court heard the boy now lives in fear, and will not play outside of the home because of "the bad man".

The girl was found on a beach about 1km from her family's campground within about an hour and Ms Prenc said she "seemed to be dazed, in shock and oblivious" of the search party which had formed to find her.

"Someone brought me here and I don't know how to get back," she told the man who found her.

She had visible injuries including bruises and grazes on her face, head and body and there were red marks around her neck where Mabb had strangled her.

In court, Mabb cried as the prosecutor read out the details of her injuries and impact on the families and wider community involved.

Ms Phillips said that Mabb had wanted to plead guilty at the earliest possible opportunity, initially against legal advice.

This story Home of man who said he wanted to eat child burnt down first appeared on The Examiner.