24 November 2022

Man who raped teen girl in Cooma, while her sister held her hand, sentenced to years in jail

| Albert McKnight
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A man, aged in his late 30s, was found guilty of a charge of sexual intercourse without consent after a trial in the Queanbeyan District Court. Photo: Claire Fenwicke.

CONTENT WARNING: This article discusses a sexual assault.

A man has been sentenced to years in jail for raping the teenaged sister of his pregnant partner; a woman who had held onto the girl’s hand while he committed the horrific attack more than a decade ago.

In the late 2000s, the survivor had been a 16 or 17-year-old high school student in year 11 while the man and her sister lived together in Cooma in the NSW South East, a recently-released judgement from the state’s district court says.

Judge Robyn Tupman said the girl’s parents had told her to go to her sister’s house and help with housework because her sister was pregnant.

One day, the man came home from work and asked his partner to have sex with him, but she refused, with the judge saying this was probably because she had fears for the safety of her unborn child.

The argument, which the girl overheard, escalated and the partner pulled a knife on him, so he left the home for some hours while the girl continued to fold washed clothes.

But he returned and, while they smoked cannabis together, continued asking his partner for sex, which she kept refusing.

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Judge Tupman said the partner asked or told the girl to have sex with the man, “to get him off her back”. The girl refused, but the man commented that if his partner wouldn’t have sex with him, then he’d have sex with her sister.

The judge said some inconsistencies followed these events, but ultimately all three ended up in the couple’s bedroom where the man raped the girl for about half an hour, even though she was telling him ‘no’, crying and screaming, and saying it hurt her.

During the assault, the girl’s sister held her hand and told her that it would be OK and it would be over soon.

The man was arrested in 2019. In June 2022, a jury found him guilty of a charge of aggravated sexual intercourse without consent after a trial in the Queanbeyan District Court, acquitting him on other charges, then he came before Judge Tupman for sentencing in August.

She said she had read a statement from the girl and accepted she had been adversely affected by the assault.

“It is to be hoped that with the ultimate finalisation of this matter it will mean that she has a sense of closure and will start to regard herself as a survivor of sexual assault and not a victim,” the judge said.

Judge Tupman said the man, now aged in his late 30s, had not shown any remorse as he continued to deny his guilt.

He had separated from the girl’s sister, but wanted to continue to have a relationship with their children. Judge Tupman said he seemed to be both “relatively lonely” and “a somewhat hopeless person” who hadn’t formed other long-term relationships.

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“Whilst this is a sex offence, it is a one-off isolated act and there is nothing in the evidence to indicate that he presents a risk to the community as a sex offender or at all,” she said while talking about his good prospects of rehabilitation.

The girl’s sister was charged over her role, pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual intercourse in 2021 and was sentenced to a community corrections order, which Judge Tupman said was an extremely lenient penalty.

She took into account issues including parity and the delay it had taken for the case to make its way through the courts when sentencing the man.

He was convicted and sentenced to four years’ jail, with a non-parole period of two years, which means he will be eligible for release from custody in July 2024.

If this story has raised any concerns for you, 1800RESPECT, the national 24-hour sexual assault, family and domestic violence counselling line, can be contacted on 1800 737 732. Help and support are also available through the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre on 02 6247 2525, the Domestic Violence Crisis Service ACT on 02 6280 0900, Lifeline on 13 11 14, the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467 and Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800. In an emergency, call triple zero (000).

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