First came the rape, then the ordeal of the justice system
17/11/2008 1:00:01 AM
AS IF having her jaw broken and her nose, fingers and foot fractured in days of beatings was not enough, the young woman was also repeatedly raped.
Then the legal system started its efforts to get justice for her. She had to tell the story of her seven-day ordeal in great detail in court – three times.
Only at a fourth trial had the law been changed to allow her video-recorded evidence to be played to the jury who finally convicted the man who attacked her.
Initially the legal system moved quickly: the first trial started in November 2005, less than 10 months after her attack. Then she had to give evidence again in May 2006 and November of the same year.
Her attacker, 28, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was eventually convicted in June last year, and only last month – almost three years after his first trial – was he finally sentenced.
The first trial ended prematurely, and the jury was discharged. The second and third trials ended with hung verdicts.
In the trials, the man's defence suggested the woman, who had been his girlfriend for four months, had consented to the mistreatment and liked sado-masochistic sex. The woman, who was seven years older than the accused, owned books by the Marquis de Sade and "had fantasies about being raped and beaten and brutalised", his lawyer said.
His legal team advanced another explanation for his behaviour: he had taken an anti-depressant, which a psychiatrist, Dr Yolande Lucire, alleged could have made him more aggressive.
Last month District Court Judge James Bennett rejected both explanations for the man's behaviour.
The woman, who cannot be identified, was detained and assaulted in an apartment for two periods, two days and five days, interrupted only by a five-day spell in hospital to have her broken jaw wired.
"The offences involve gratuitous cruelty … the injury and emotional harm suffered by the complainant is to be properly described as substantial," Judge Bennett said. The victim told the court she still feared being alone, felt isolated and had suffered a loss of income due to her injuries.
The accused had to be made accountable for his behaviour and "the reprehensible cruelty and the brutality upon which he engaged in his mistreatment of [her]", the judge said.
When the two started going out, the man was attentive and caring, but in early 2005 he became increasingly jealous. He started checking her phone, asked about previous boyfriends and verbally abused her.
On January 21, 2005, the accused again looked through her mobile phone and she became upset. He threw her phone into a swimming pool. He started hitting the woman, and threatened if she told anyone about what he had done, he would put her into a wheelchair and kill her friends and family.
Over the next few hours he stopped her from leaving, kicked her, and broke her jaw. Eventually he agreed to allow her to go to hospital.
When she was discharged, he took her to another flat, where the assaults soon continued. Over the following days he beat her with a baton, broke her fingers and nose and raped her five times.
The man's criminal record showed he had a problem managing his anger which needed to be addressed, Judge Bennett found.
Judge Bennett sentenced him for 14 charges: five rapes, one attempted rape, and several detain for advantage, malicious damage, and assault charges. He is eligible for parole in February 2014, a minimum sentence of just over nine years.