Torture felt like being in car crash, says victim
A TORTURED mother, beaten, doused in petrol, noose around her neck, tied up and left in a cupboard, and locked in a bedroom on Christmas Day away from her children, told police she felt like she'd been in a car crash.
Instead, the 28-year-old woman's nightmare was that of being the long-suffering torture victim of the man she once loved, Benjamin Lunson.
The horrible details of the ongoing violence Lunson inflicted on her at their Moore Park Beach home were made clear before the District Court at Bundaberg when he was convicted and jailed.
Lunson, 33, pleaded guilty to:
- torturing his long-time partner between December 2015 and January 5 this year;
- unlawfully assaulting the woman at Moore Park Beach between July and December 2016;
- two charges of unlawfully depriving her of her personal liberty;
- attempting to unlawfully strangle her when in a domestic relationship between January 1 and January 5;
- wilfully strangling a person when in a domestic relationship;
- doing her bodily harm when armed with an offensive implement;
- assault causing bodily harm;
- indecent assault; and
- unlawful assault.
Lunson also pleaded guilty to failing to stop a motor vehicle for police; dangerous operation of a motor vehicle; obstructing police, driving unlicensed; drug possession (steroids), and three counts of contravening a domestic violence order.
The Crown sought a jail term of eight to nine years.
Prosecutor Christopher Cook said it was particularly concerning that some of the violence was done while the woman was pregnant with the couple's third child.
Mr Cook said Lunson poured petrol over her in the garage after earlier telling her he was going to make her give birth on the floor.
She was also tied up and put in a cupboard.
On Christmas Day 2016 he prevented her seeing their children and told her to stay in the bedroom.
"He had significant power over her," Mr Cook said.
He told the court said the torture culminated in January when Lunson attempted to strangle the woman.
"He put a noose over her head, saying, 'This will be the end of you. You'll never see the light of day again'," Mr Cook said.
Lunson also punched and kicked her. He'd pulled the rope and she could not breathe, and when he let the rope go, Lunson pulled her back up onto her feet.
With her feet tied he continued to punch and kick her.
"The next day she was hit over and over again with the handle of a hammer," Mr Cook said.
He had also smashed her toe, which Mr Cook said was "particularly sadistic conduct".
Lunson also threatened to put tacks into her vagina, and struck her with a photo frame
Smashed glass was found at the scene by police.
"She ultimately fled with the baby (to neighbours). It was a protracted period of depraved and cruel conduct," Mr Cook said.
"She says she felt the injuries reflect a car accident rather than from the man she used to love.
"It is a shocking example of domestic violence over protracted time."
Legal Aid defence barrister Robert East said Lunson accepted the woman has suffered deepl emotional scarring.
He said they had been a couple nearly 10 years and been no suggestion of domestic violence until the end of 2015.
Mr East said the couple began using methylamphetamine after two other children came into their care, and Lunson became addicted to ice, showing signs of paranoia.
Mr East said there was no suggestion Lunson tried to set fire to her after dousing her in fuel, and when he realised she was in a lot of pain he bathed her.
However, Judge Anthony Rafter SC noted that in agreed facts Lunson only "ran a bath for her", while saying "she was lucky he did not have a lighter or he'd lit her up".
Mr East said the noose around her neck could be seen as "symbolic violence" as when Lunson kicked her feet away he immediately grabbed and pulled her back up on her feet.
Judge Rafter told Lunson, in the dock, head bowed, his abuse was "protracted, brutal, sadistic and cruel".
"She was vulnerable, pregnant and deserved your protection," he said.
He outlined the violence, saying Lunson strangled her until she passed out, made her drink a mix of Aspro tablets to kill the unborn baby, poured petrol over her, kicked her in the groin and elsewhere, and that she felt as if on fire from the petrol.
Lunson tied her up more than once, and put her in a hot cupboard where she was unable to go to the toilet.
In another incident Judge Rafter said she'd been forced to remain overnight in a cupboard, and after Christmas the floggings became worse.
She also ended up in Bundaberg Hospital.
"It has had devastating effects, physical and psychological".
Judge Rafter sentenced Lunson to eight years' jail for torture.
Declared a serious violent offender, Lunson must serve 80 per cent of the sentence before he can apply for parole.
He received lesser terms for the other offences.