Man avoids jail over alley sex assault on friend
A Southern Downs man who violently sexually assaulted his friend on a night out has claimed he became a victim of community vengeance himself, with several of the girl's friends publicly bashing or verbally abusing him.
The then-19-year-old and his 18-year-old victim had spent the day together in a group of friends at the Stanthorpe Races on October 19, 2019 and continued drinking into the night at various pubs.
The Stanthorpe man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, convinced his friend to walk home with him from the Central Hotel instead of going to her friend's house, the court was told.
The man then tried to kiss her when they stopped in an alleyway to talk.
Crown prosecutor Amy Stannard told the Warwick District Court the 18-year-old resisted his advances, saying it was wrong because he had a girlfriend, at which point he shoved her to the ground and climbed on top of her.
Ms Stannard said the man pinned his friend to the ground while removing his penis from his pants and shoving it near her face, ignoring her constant pleas for him to stop,telling her it would be "just this one time".
The assault continued until one of the 18-year-old's friends was walking past and heard her cries for help, prompting the attacker to flee the scene.
The court heard the victim still suffered nightmares and flashbacks of the incident, which the now-20-year-old initially denied and tried to blame on the girl when interviewed by police.
Defence barrister Jessica Goldie said her client now accepted responsibility for his actions and had been subjected to retribution by several of the victim's friends and acquaintances, being 'king hit' or otherwise beat up five times since the original assault.
One of these was at the hands of the 18-year-old herself, who the court heard became "overwrought with emotion" upon seeing her attacker in a pub one night and punched him in the face.
"He is heckled and verbally abused by members of the community … even grocery shopping they'll go up to him and call him 'rapist', 'pig', and other derogatory names," Ms Goldie said.
His lawyer said the Stanthorpe man's high levels of intoxication were an explanation, rather than an excuse for his conduct, for which he was now remorseful and suffering a "major depressive episode".
Several letters from his family members, friends, and girlfriend of three years, many of whom were present in the courtroom, were also submitted to the court, claiming the 20-year-old had a usually kind and empathetic character.
The man pleaded guilty to one count of sexual assault.
Judge Suzanne Sheridan sentenced him to 12 months' jail, wholly suspended for two years, saying his remorse and lack of relevant criminal history suggested he was a low risk of reoffending.