9 September 2022

Social media influencer confronts rapist: 'Did you get what you wanted?'

| Albert McKnight
Man leaving court

Chidi Chike Okwechime, 34, approaches court during his trial. Photo: Albert McKnight.

CONTENT WARNING: This article discusses a sexual assault.

The social media influencer who survived what she called an “animalistic” rape at the hands of an alleged bikie-nominee said she sometimes wishes she was dead because living with the pain of what he did to her “feels like one thousand deaths over and over again”.

“You’ve ruined me,” she wrote to 34-year-old Chidi Chike Okwechime.

“Don’t let the nice photos fool you, I’m broken. I feel so tarnished and dirty and scared all the time. What kind of life is that?

“You did this. Was it all worth it? Did you get what you wanted?”

In May 2021, she was out at the Civic nightclub Kokomo’s when she met a group of tattoo-covered men that included Okwechime.

She went to the home of a Canberra Comanchero to recharge her phone but was left alone with Okwechime and a jury found he sexually assaulted her.

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The influencer wrote a statement in which she said this was not an isolated incident but happened to her every day in her mind because she had to live with it on repeat.

While she said he had stripped her of her dignity, she told him, “you did not take away my voice [through your] selfish violence”.

“You violated me. You ignored me. You took what you believed was entitled to you,” she said.

“I can’t even look at myself sometimes because I feel like you are there.”

Her words were read out by her mother who, in a statement of her own, said the crime had traumatised the whole family and left them in “tatters”.

“The effects of this horrible crime against my daughter don’t have an end date,” she said.

The influencer’s father said he could remember seeing his daughter go out that evening a beautiful, happy and confident person, then next saw her in the hospital bed, “her spark removed and it hasn’t come back”.

“As a father, there is nothing worse than knowing I failed to protect my daughter from this heinous and violent crime,” he said.

His family is now considering moving away due to fear of repercussions.

“It feels like we have the life sentence,” he said.

Okwechime faced an ACT Supreme Court jury trial in June 2022 in which he was found guilty of two counts of sexual intercourse without consent and one count of choking.

However, he was acquitted of two other counts of sexual intercourse without consent.

At the end of his trial, in which he had fought all charges, barrister Steven Whybrow told jurors, “nothing he said could give you a proper basis to reject his evidence”.

At the sentencing hearing on Tuesday (23 August), Mr Whybrow conceded Acting Justice Stephen Norrish could not install a discount for remorse on sentencing because his client was appealing his convictions based on the “irreconcilability” of various findings.

He said it was difficult to know what the jury found for a number of factual assertions made by the influencer which his client denied.

For instance, Okwechime admitted to committing one sex act but was found not guilty of that act. Mr Whybrow said in this case the jury was possibly not satisfied this wasn’t consensual.

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Mr Whybrow said his client has served time in jail but he had no prior convictions of sexual offending, domestic violence or offending against women.

When discussing the seriousness of the offending, the Crown Prosecutor said Okwechime ignored the influencer’s protests to stop and had only been released on parole about two months before the attack.

Also, his victim received injuries during the incident.

Acting Justice Norrish will hand down his sentence for Okwechime, who is already in custody, on 30 August. His appeal will take place at a later date.

When he was arrested in 2021, court documents alleged he was a nominee of the Comancheros; however, this allegation was untested in court.

If this story has raised any concerns for you, 1800RESPECT, the national 24-hour sexual assault, family and domestic violence counselling line, can be contacted on 1800 737 732. Help and support are also available through the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre on 6247 2525, the Domestic Violence Crisis Service ACT on 6280 0900 and Lifeline on 13 11 14. In an emergency, call 000.

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