A judge has been slammed for praising the brave act of a man while sentencing him for the rape of a young woman after a 21st birthday party.
Luke Merryfull and Shaun Bloomfield, both 24, yesterday gave a thumbs up in court as they were jailed for taking it in turns to rape their victim, then 21, after she rejected their request for a threesome.
But while sentencing Bloomfield, the judge called him brave and selfless for rescuing a dad and son from the sea five years ago when he was 19 – something victims rights groups have slammed as irrelevant.
Judge Gerard Mullaly said the rescue, at a beach on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Australia, two years before the attack, was factored into sentencing.
Victoria County Court in Melbourne heard how Bloomfield and Merryfulls victim was a friend who trusted you to understand and accept her words.
The pair wedged their friend between them inside a caravan and asked her if she would have sex with both of them at the same time.
She said no, no way and tried to roll away, wrapping herself in a blanket.
As the men ignored her words and began their attack, she used her elbows and hands to push their bodies off her.
But both men raped the young woman, one after the other.
Bloomfield was jailed for five years and eight months for the attack – it is not known by how much his sentence was reduced because the judge deemed he had shown prior good character.
Judge Mullaly said the rape stands in stark contrast to this earlier brave behaviour.
After the sentencing, sexual assault campaigner Carolyn Worth told news.com.au: While I understand the judge taking a prior act of bravery into account in sentencing, it is irrelevant in a sexual assault case.
Only in Mills and Boon stories does bravery translate into chivalry.
Rape is about power and a total disregard for women. You can be brave and still not treat women with respect.