Bendigo gang rapist on run as judge sentences co-accused to detention

A judge fears two teenagers who took part in the gang rape of a young mother in her Bendigo home as her two children slept nearby will strike again. 

County Court judge Richard Maidment said there was no reason to be optimistic the teenagers, now aged 15 and 18, would resist the temptation to commit a similar offence if the opportunity arose again.

‘‘It is likely both of you would take more care to avoid detection if engaged in similar conduct again,’’ Judge Maidment said yesterday when jailing the teenagers for three years. 

Police claimed the mother of two was subjected to repeated sexual assault by a gang of six youths in January last year. 

The woman, who was 21 at the time, was allegedly dragged into the laundry where the gang took turns raping her. 

Three of the gang members were convicted in the Children’s Court in March this year of raping the woman and were jailed for three years but appealed against their convictions. 

They were granted bail and their appeal was heard last month before County Court judge Richard Maidment, but one of the teenagers failed to turn up and is on the run. A warrant has been issued for his arrest. 

Judge Maidment yesterday found the other two teenagers guilty of four counts of rape and one count of false imprisonment. The 15-year-old was also found guilty of one count of indecent assault.

The judge said the two teenagers had been the instigators of the gang rape and had shown a callous disregard for the emotional and physical welfare of the victim. 

He said the teenagers had been in position of ‘‘considerable power’’ when part of a gang of young men and the attack had involved ‘‘serious acts of gang violence’’ which had caused substantial on-going harm to the mental well-being of the victim and her husband. 

Both teenagers had shown no remorse and mobile phone video footage had been taken of the victim being attacked on the night. 

Judge Maidment said the 18-year-old had tried to blame the others when interviewed by police and later ‘‘mouthed some platitudes’’ to a counsellor to try to get out of trouble. 

The judge said there was a need to protect women from the teenagers’ ‘‘violent and wrongful acts’’ and sentenced them both to the maximum three years in a youth detention centre. The maximum jail term for rape for adults is 25 years jail, but is two years for defendants aged between 15 and 20 when the case is heard in the Children’s Court, except when there are multiple counts. Then the maximum term is three years. 

Defence barrister Charlotte Duckett, representing the 18-year-old, had earlier told the court the youth had wanted to throw himself off the County Court building after being convicted of rape. 

Ms Duckett said the youth’s schooling had been interrupted since he had been charged but he realised this was the fallout from this type of offending. The youth was worried about being known as a rapist while in detention. 

Three other youths accused of taking part in the gang rape will stand trial in the County Court later this year. 

An earlier court hearing has been told that at times the gang allegedly pinned the victim against the wall while another raped her. Police had alleged the woman had been out drinking and dancing with a friend at a local nightclub when she befriended a woman and invited her back to her house to keep drinking. The court heard that the other woman knew some of the accused.