Court exteriors
Court exteriors

Violent child rapist could go free on bail within 48 hours

A man convicted of a 'horrifying' child sex attack has lodged an appeal against his conviction for repeatedly raping his young niece at knifepoint.

The man, who cannot be named, was sentenced in the Supreme Court to 16 years in prison in December after he was found guilty of the "cruel and degrading" Christmas holiday attacks.

He was back in the dock on Tuesday to apply for bail after the court earlier granted leave to appeal the jury's verdict on the basis it was "unreasonable" and not supported by the evidence.

In making the application, the man's lawyer, Ian Read, said if the appeal judges agreed that the jury's decision was unsound his client would likely be acquitted rather than facing a retrial.

"If these grounds of appeal are successful then it would be submitted that there was to be a strong basis that a verdict of acquittal be entered and in that case of course the time he will have served in custody will have been for nothing," he said.

Mr Read said his client's alleged "extreme risk-taking behaviour" in attacking the girl in circumstances in which he could have easily been caught meant the appeals court could have a reasonable doubt about his guilt.

"The allegations made by the complainant at Christmas time 2009 when the applicant and his family were staying with family up here in Darwin were really of a violent and extraordinary nature in what was effectively a full Christmas time house," he said.

But in opposing bail, prosecutor Matt Nathan said there was "a very strong presumption that these convictions should, and indeed will, stand".

Mr Nathan said the appeal "strikes at the very heart of the role of a jury, which is an assessment of the honesty and reliability of a witness".

"Even the Court of Criminal Appeal will not interfere with the, I suppose, sacred and extremely important role that a jury plays in a criminal proceeding," he said.

"They were the ones that saw the carriage of the entire trial, they were the ones who observed the evidence and demeanour of all witnesses, heard the arguments of both parties and the directions of the trial judge and came to a conclusion of guilt, unanimously.

"The complainant in her account gave clear evidence of the four occasions upon which she said the accused violently sexually assaulted her, she was clear in the details and she was unmoved under cross examination in relation to them."

In sentencing the man in December, Justice Peter Barr said the "horrifying" assaults had come "completely out of the blue".

"This court has to sentence a man of prior good character who, some nine years ago, in the period of about a week or 10 days, engaged in sexual offending of the worst kind against a 9-year-old girl," he said.

Justice Anthony Graham will rule on the bail application by Thursday afternoon.



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