17 October 2021

Rapist could face deportation after jail for violating teen girl with a disability

| Albert McKnight
ACT Law Courts

Habib Atai, 27, has been sentenced for raping a 16-year-old girl in 2020. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

WARNING: This story contains graphic descriptions of sexual assault.

A man could be deported after he was sentenced to more than two years in jail for raping a teenage girl with a disability.

The girl wrote a statement read to the ACT Supreme Court on Friday (15 October) in which she said she wished the day that 27-year-old Habib Atai violated her had never happened.

“I never thought that this would happen to me. It has changed my life and everything is different now,” she said.

“I’ve had nightmares of what you did to me, and this reoccurs almost every single night.”

In January 2020, she was 16 and hanging out at the Woden Shopping Centre when she decided to meet up with a person called “Jacob”, whom she had talked to via Snapchat but never met in person.

He arrived with his friend, the then-26-year-old Atai, and they all went back to Atai’s apartment in Phillip.

Jacob told the girl he wanted to have a nap and left the room. When he was gone Atai tried to touch her legs and knees, and she told him she didn’t want to do anything. She went to sit near Jacob, but he got up and left the apartment.

READ ALSO Rapist found guilty after blaming 16-year-old girl for arousing him

Crown prosecutor Skye Jerome said Atai carried the girl into another room, lay on top of her and “physically dominated from that point onwards”.

He pulled her onto a mattress, tried to kiss her, attempted to have sex with her, then orally raped her.

“It did involve persistence. Mr Atai ignored the complainant’s repeated objections,” Ms Jerome said.

Legal Aid lawyer Mr McLaughlin said while there was a reference to him laughing after the rape, laughing could mean different things, it was not necessarily about finding humour in a situation.

There was also no suggestion Atai was aware of the girl’s disability, he said.

Ms Jerome said that within a few months of this sexual assault, Atai offended again. Even though it occurred later, he has already been sentenced for that crime.

Atai, who had worked as a tailor, barber and in construction, is originally from Iran and is a permanent resident of Australia, but due to his convictions, his visa is likely to be cancelled, and he faces the “almost certainty” of deportation, Mr McLaughlin said.

READ ALSO Brittany Higgins’ accused rapist appears in court for the first time

After a judge-alone trial earlier this year, Justice David Mossop found Atai guilty of two acts of indecency without consent, attempted sexual intercourse without consent and sexual intercourse without consent.

Justice Mossop said the assault involved “degradation and humiliation”, and when Atai read the statement of facts for the case, he had laughed because of what he claimed were the victim’s “lies”. Atai claimed the victim consented to oral sex.

He was sentenced to two years and three months’ jail with a 16-month non-parole period, backdated, so he is eligible to be released from custody in May 2022. He faces the risk of deportation once released.

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