16 July 2021

'Predatory' rapist publican Joshua Leemhuis writing cookbook in jail

| Albert McKnight
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Joshua Robert Leemhuis

Joshua Robert Leemhuis, the former publican of the George Harcourt Inn, has pleaded guilty to sexual assault-related charges. Photo: Facebook.

A court has been told the former publican of the George Harcourt Inn, who raped and violated two women on multiple occasions, is writing a cookbook behind bars.

Joshua Robert Leemhuis, 36, has confessed he assaulted or humiliated two former partners, but on Wednesday (15 July), his lawyer Felicity Graham of Black Chambers told the ACT Supreme Court he now held “trusted” positions in jail.

She said he helped anxious inmates arriving in jail for the first time and was working on an Alexander Maconochie Centre cookbook to share with other prisoners.

READ MORE Publican sexually assaulted former partners, uploaded “despicable crimes” online

Court documents show Leemhuis had filmed himself repeatedly raping or sexually assaulting the first woman while she was unconscious.

His crimes were discovered when a survivor’s mother, wanting to preserve family photos after the 2019-2020 Black Summer bushfires, was reviewing memory cards in her possession in May 2020 and found the horrific images.

Leemhuis also secretly took naked photos of the second woman before uploading them to an amateur pornography website.

Ms Graham argued his crimes were “opportunistic” due to the disinhibiting effect of alcohol and were not premeditated.

He was in a relationship with his former partners, she said, and he had not tried to create the same opportunities outside those relationships.

Joshua Robert Leemhuis at the George Harcourt Inn

Joshua Robert Leemhuis pleaded guilty to 22 charges, including four counts of sexual intercourse without consent. Photo: Facebook

She argued alcohol abuse was a factor in his crimes as he socially drank to excess when he was with the first partner, so much so that he would sometimes sleep for a day or two afterwards and drank every day, including at work when he was with the second partner.

But prosecutor Trent Hickey said Leemhuis was not slurring or unsteady in the videos and the only “self-serving” claim that he had been drunk came from him.

Mr Hickey said there were two different victims in this case, and Leemhuis had offended 18 times over a combined period of 22 months.

“This wasn’t one-off offending; this was predatory behaviour,” he said.

“He took advantage of the relationship he was in with his partners.

“They must have assumed they would be safe and their autonomy would not be violated while they were in their own house, in their own bedroom.”

READ ALSO Canberra businessman found not guilty of raping partner at work

He said recordings showed Leemhuis winking at the camera or shining it on his face, which suggested he was filming for an audience – whether the audience was himself or someone else.

Mr Hickey said not only was the first partner assaulted, but she also had the humiliation that came from her mother discovering the recordings.

The second partner, he said, had the humiliation of knowing photos taken of her had been uploaded to a pornography website, and she had no control over them.

“He knew they were not consenting,” he said.

“The only reason he did it is for sexual gratification.”

READ ALSO Three police officers hit by car, man charged with attempted murder

While Leemhuis pleaded guilty, Mr Hickey described the prosecution’s case against him as overwhelming.

“He hardly could deny the offences. His face is captured in the photos on the film,” he said.

Justice John Burns reserved his decision and will hand down a sentence at a later date.

On 28 May, Leemhuis’ former partners told the Supreme Court about the pain and anguish his crimes had left them with.

“I believe his need to have full and total control over me was at the core of who he is,” one said.

“I was in our bed with the person who should have been protecting me. I should have been safe. Instead, I was raped and filmed.”

Leemhuis’s other former partner said the photos were “humiliating and degrading”, and she was “mortified” that he had uploaded them to the internet, describing him as a “monster” who had committed “despicable crimes”.

Earlier this year, Leemhuis pleaded guilty to 22 charges, including four counts of sexual intercourse without consent.

His former partners have given their written consent to the media to name the man who violated them.

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