IT was a crime that sent a shiver down the spine of every Novocastrian; a sexual predator abducts an 11-year-old girl while she is walking to school and subjects her to depraved acts and repeated sexual assaults over a five-hour period.
It has become a cliche, but the case of Brett David Hill, 49, the deviant who saw an innocent young girl walking to school on a quiet morning in June, 2018, and decided to grab her, is every parent's worst nightmare.
It triggered widespread outrage and hysteria like few criminal offences have in Newcastle in recent memory, sparked an investigation by police and a manhunt by members of the public who searched for the man in the red Holden Commodore.
And from the moment he was arrested in Beaumont Street four days after the abduction, there was really no doubt that it was Hill who was the monster responsible for such a heinous crime.
He was driving the same car he used in the abduction, his DNA had placed him at the scene and he was found in possession of child pornography, among other evidence stacked against him.
And in February this year, Hill admitted he was the man responsible, pleading guilty to kidnapping and sexually assaulting the girl, but denying the more serious sexual assault offences.
Then, once his matter was committed to Newcastle District Court, Hill admitted to another aggravated sexual assault offence and to possessing child abuse material.
But still he denied he committed the most heinous acts that the girl had told detectives about.
Hill's trial was expected to begin on Monday, but was delayed first when he was hospitalised and again when Corrective Services failed to bring him to court on Tuesday.
Hill's defence barrister, Andrew Norrie, and Crown prosecutor Lee Carr, SC, engaged in "discussions" on Wednesday morning and, after a delay, Hill was re-arraigned and pleaded guilty to an additional three counts of aggravated sexual assault with a victim under the age of 16, making him guilty of a total of nine offences.
But Hill's late guilty pleas did not spare the young girl the ignominy of having to come to court. She had already given her evidence during a pre-recording in May. He will be sentenced in December and is facing decades behind bars, a jail term somewhere in the ballpark of the 28 years Troy Johnson received earlier this month. The girl's parents were in court on Wednesday to see Hill admit what they already knew; that he was guilty.
As Hill was being led away, the girl's father called out: "Enjoy prison".