Two men who raped a friend when she refused to have a threesome after a 21st birthday party will be welcomed back to their communities on their release from prison, while their victim feels ostracised and fears returning home to visit her family, a Melbourne court has heard.
- The court heard the woman refused the suggestion of a threesome from one of the men
- The judge described the offences as “serious examples of rape”
- The court was told the victim continues to feels ostracised by her home community
Luke Merryfull and Shaun Bloomfield, both aged 24, have been jailed in the Victorian County Court for raping the woman after a party on a property at Balmoral in western Victoria in April, 2016.
She had planned to stay at the property along with her friends, including Merryfull and Bloomfield, who assaulted her in the early hours of the morning after being left alone with her in a caravan.
The court heard Merryfull suggested they have a threesome, but the woman made it clear she did not want to have sex with either of the men.
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In sentencing the men, Judge Gerard Mullaly said the victim trusted the men to accept she was not consenting, but they went ahead believing, or hoping, that there would be no consequences.
“She was entitled to safely enjoy … 21st birthday celebrations of a friend by drinking and by going off to sleep on the property with other friends around her,” he said.
“To be sexually violated, raped, by two men who she trusted is a grave thing.
“The crimes are serious examples of rape.”
Men continue to deny rape
Judge Mullaly said the way Merryfull had referred to the victim during the assault revealed he viewed her as “merely an object for each of you … to violate at your will”.
After the assault, Merryfull and Bloomfield left the property where their distressed victim tried to contact friends for help.
She reported the rapes to police the next morning.
The men consistently denied they had raped the woman, claiming it had been a consensual sexual encounter.
But a jury accepted their victim’s evidence and found Merryfull guilty of rape and Bloomfield guilty of sexual assault and two counts of rape.
Merryfull has been sentenced to four years and 10 months in jail with a minimum of two years and 10 months.
Bloomfield will spend a maximum five years and eight months in jail and has been ordered to serve at least three years and four months before becoming eligible for parole.
Victim ostracised, attackers given ‘enormous support’
The court heard the victim moved interstate because she did not feel safe in Victoria.
Judge Mullaly said the woman felt ostracised from the local community and “fears going home to visit her family”.
“These were opportunistic crimes — they were serious and selfish,” he said.
“The devastating impact on her is still resonating.”
The court heard their victim now suffers from serious mental health issues, including post traumatic stress disorder, severe anxiety and depressive episodes.
Judge Mullaly said her attackers had “enormous supports” from family and friends, with more than 30 travelling to be in court for Wednesday’s sentencing hearing.
“What occurred is in their eyes simply out of character for each of you,” Judge Mullaly said.
“They know you as respectful, caring young men.”
Merryfull will be welcomed back to his job by his employer after serving his jail term, while Bloomfield’s boss provided a reference detailing his “good work ethic and good character.”
Judge Mullaly said both had good prospects of rehabilitation.
“It remains a grave step to send young men like you to jail,” he said.
Topics: law-crime-and-justice, crime, sexual-offences, community-and-society, balmoral-3407, vic, australia
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