CONTENT WARNING: This article refers to sexual and domestic violence.
A young man has been found guilty of subjecting his then-girlfriend to brutal and repeated acts of sexual violence and assault.
The pair met on the dating app Tinder as teenagers in 2021 before he went on to commit the shocking abuse over three months in early 2022, jurors heard when his ACT Supreme Court trial began last month.
Twelve jurors deliberated for three days before returning to court with their verdicts on Wednesday (5 April), announcing they had found the 20-year-old man guilty of 19 charges.
These were nine counts of sexual intercourse without consent, four counts of choking, suffocation or strangling, two counts each of sexual assault in the third degree and committing an act of indecency, as well as single counts of assault and indecent assault in the third degree.
The man, who was already in custody, stood up in the courtroom’s dock and did not display any visible emotion while the verdicts were read out.
Jurors heard from the ex-girlfriend at the start of the trial. She described the first case of abuse, which occurred in the man’s Tuggeranong unit in late January 2022 when she was 19.
She said he pushed her against a wall, pulled her onto a bed and put a pillow on her face for a couple of minutes “to try and suffocate” her.
She eventually ran out of the apartment building wearing nothing but a t-shirt because “I didn’t have time to grab anything else”.
“I felt like I was running for my life,” she said.
The ex said she hadn’t wanted police to come at the time, but they were called and she saw them arresting him.
“I felt terrible, because that wasn’t what I wanted in the first place,” she said.
They started speaking again. The abuse that followed included him whipping her with a horse riding crop, as well as assaulting and committing an act of indecency on her when it was her birthday.
In the lead-up to when she went to police in late March 2022, she rang the man’s mother and told her, “He just keeps hurting me”.
The jury did find the man not guilty of one charge, which accused him of choking or strangling his ex-girlfriend into unconsciousness.
However, he was found guilty of the alternative charge to the allegation, which means jurors were satisfied he had choked her, but not that she became unconscious.
After the verdicts were read out, Acting Justice Stephen Norrish said he wanted to express the “gratitude of the court” to the jurors and discharged them.
The matter will return to court on Thursday (6 April) to begin organising a sentencing date. The man was remanded in custody.
If you or someone you know needs help, you can contact:
Lifeline’s 24-hour crisis support line – 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service – 1300 659 467
Kids Helpline – 1800 551 800 or kidshelpline.com.au
MensLine Australia – 1300 789 978 or mensline.org.au
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