Sexual assault is at an all time high in Australia. From 2016 to 2017, the number of sexual assault victims increased by eight per cent across the country, according to data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Furthermore, research from Queensland University published in a Centres against Sexual Assault publication revealed that 7.9 per cent of women reported penetrative childhood sexual abuse by the age of 16. Such information highlights the dangers young people are facing. Unfortunately, such dangers were evident in a recent case brought before the Supreme Court of NSW, where an applicant contended the verdict of a sexual assault sentence.
Background of the primary trial
Between February 22, 2016 and March 7, 2016, the applicant stood trial in the District Court of NSW. Here, he faced 16 counts of sexual assault, all of which alleged sexual misconduct against one single complainant who was born in February 1973. The 16 counts comprised six separate incidents between June 1,1985 and August 18, 1989.
During this hearing, the court found the applicant not guilty of 11 counts and guilty of five counts. On June 23, 2016, his Honour imposed an aggregate sentence of imprisonment with a non-parole period of five years commencing March 7, 2016.
The applicant sought leave to appeal on the grounds that the jury verdicts were unreasonable, not supported by evidence and that they were inconsistent with the not-guilty verdicts.
Reviewing the evidence
The court looked back over the 16 counts against the applicant. It became clear that the applicant and complainant (the young girl) met when she was around 13 years of age. They formed a friendship and soon after the applicant kissed the young girl. In the weeks that followed, the man told the girl he wanted to take the next step and have sex with her. The complainant reported feeling uncomfortable but the applicant reassured her everything would be okay, but not to tell anyone of the events.
The other 15 counts followed similar themes of sexual misconduct against the girl, such as non-consensual intercourse and forceful anal penetration.
The applicant accepted he had sexual intercourse with the complainant on some of the occasions, however he maintained any sexual contact between the pair was consensual.
Despite the alleged offender's efforts to persuade the court that his Honour had been inconsistent with sentencing, the court concluded that all verdicts had been supported by evidence and were therefore reasonable. The applicant's leave to appeal was dismissed.
If you've suffered sexual abuse and want to know your rights, get in touch with the expert team at Gerard Malouf & Partners today.