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Ex-Hey Dad! star loses court appeal

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Former Hey Dad! star Robert Hughes, who was convicted of sexually and indecently assaulting four young girls in the 1980s and 1990s, has lost his appeal in a Sydney court.

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Hughes did not to appear at Monday’s appeal hearing, which is challenging his conviction and sentence on 10 charges relating to sexual and indecent acts perpetrated on young girls.

The 67-year-old was jailed for at least six years in 2014, with Judge Peter Zahra describing the once popular sitcom actor as a sexual predator who systematically exploited young girls and relied on his position to ensure his victims’ compliance and silence.

Hughes was appealing on a number of grounds, including that the judge erred when he allowed all the counts against him to be heard in a single trial and that he also should have permanently stayed the proceedings.

But this was rejected by the NSW Court of Criminal appeal.

“No error was established, either by way of the reasoning of his Honour on any matter, or the length of the sentence ultimately imposed,” the court said in its judgment.

During his appeal the court heard Hughes, 67, faced a puerile, contemptuous and malicious social media campaign when he stood trial last year.

“Hang the pedo” was just one of the phrases that received more than 220,000 “likes” when it was posted on social media in the lead-up to the actor’s trial last year said his barrister, the court had heard.

His barrister at the time said Hughes was unable to receive a fair trial and proceedings against him should never have taken place.

This, too was rejected.

“The 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 in notable criminal trials, should not diminish the commitment of the criminal justice system to trial by jury,” Monday’s judgment said.

Outside court, Hughes’ solicitor Greg Walsh told reporters his client urgently needed medical attention for a hernia, but that it would take about six months for him to be assessed by a doctor.

“He’s been shifted to another jail, he’s lost an enormous amount of weight,” Walsh said.

“He needs urgent operative care.”

Walsh said he would visit Hughes soon and that after reading Monday’s remarks from the court another appeal could be on the cards.

“There are some really fundamental issues in this case,” he said.

– AAP

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