A Guide on the Penalties for Sexual Assault in NSW

 

The District Court of NSW has heard that a former NSW Police officer blackmailed his victims into having sex.

It is reported that 30-year old Vaughan Hildebrand has pleaded guilty to 44 criminal charges including sexual assault of four women.

It is reported that Hildebrand threatened his victims to have sex with him. He did this by threatening to disclose their nude videos and images, which he had obtained from each of his victims, some of which were obtained without consent.

His offending conduct occurred over a decade involving fifteen women, including other officer of the police force.

In 2014, the court heard that Hildebrand was approached at his Campbelltown home by a woman. While on the couch Hildebrand was holding a knife and told the woman that he has guns located in his home.

When the woman left and drive from his home, she received an sms text message from Hildebrand stating “x2”.

The court heard to the woman’s knowledge, the meaning of this was that she was indebted to him over an incident many years earlier. She also knew that it meant that if she didn’t go along with his requests, her nude images would be distributed to a number of people.

Following this, the woman returned to his home only to find Hildebrand masturbating. When she arrived, it is reported that he grabbed her before forcing her to perform oral sex on him.

District Court Judge Robyn Tupman said in court, that in August 2012 he suggested to the woman that he will “make calls” subsequent to her friend’s brother being arrested, telling her that he had a mate at the DPP office “who could help out”.

Judge Tupman said that Hildebrand’s course of conduct could only be described as callous, “complicated and very disturbing”. “He was taking advantage, not only the concern [she] had of her brother but also manipulating and taking advantage of the situation she found herself in, namely grieving for the relatively recent death of her mother.”

Her Honour said this after hearing that he had placed his arm around the woman in circumstances she was grieving the recent death of her mother. At that vulnerable moment, he unbuttoned his fly and said, “do you want to lose your brother too?”

“It’s up to you, you can fix this, you just need to do this, and I’ll sort it out”, he said.

The court also heard that in 2008, he used a false identity on social media to contact a 17-year-old woman, who was a family friend, requesting she provide him with nude images with threats to release nude images of her that he claimed to possess.

Subsequent to the 17-year old girl ignoring him, she started getting calls and text messages from numbers stating, “you can’t run from me”.

Hildebrand who commenced working with the NSW Police Force in 2001, will be sentenced on Friday.

For a further discussion on sexual assault laws, contact our criminal lawyers who’re based in Sydney and appear across all courts.

Our friendly staff are available 24/7 on (02) 8606 2218.

A Guide on the Penalties for Sexual Assault in NSW

The punishment in NSW is up to 14-years behind bars for sexual assault under section 61I Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).

Section 61I prohibits you from having sexual intercourse with another person without consent of that person in circumstances you know the other person doesn’t consent.

It’s a charge that the law considers so serious that whether it gets finalised by way of a sentence or ‘not guilty’ trial, it will be finalised in the District Court, not Local Court. Such a charge is considered a ‘strictly indictable’ offence.

A sexual assault maximum penalty is set to reflect the seriousness of the crime. It also has a 7-year ‘standard non-parole period’. This essentially means that sexual assault attracts a minimum 7-year full-time imprisonment sentence before eligibility for release on parole, where the objective seriousness is at the middle-level of seriousness for offences of this kind.

So that the discretion of the sentencing Judge is not entirely taken away in determining appropriate sentences, the standard non-parole period is only meant to be used as a yardstick for Courts when deciding on the ultimate sentence to impose on a particular sexual assault offender.

To be found guilty for sexual assault in NSW, the prosecution also known as the Crown will be required to prove each of the below elements beyond reasonable doubt:

  1. You had ‘sexual intercourse’ with the complainant; and
  2. The complainant did not give consent to you to do this; and
  3. You knew that the complainant did not give the required consent to do this.

A complicated issue can be proving that the accused person knew that the complainant did not give the required consent to have sexual intercourse. Why?

As, according to the law in NSW, a person accused of sexual assault will only be considered to have known that the complainant didn’t consent in one of the following 3 ways:

  1. The accused person did it not caring whether the complainant was giving consent; or
  2. The accused person turned his/her mind to the fact the complainant is possibly not consenting; or
  3. The accused person did not bother turning his/her mind to the whether the complainant is consenting, treating is as not relevant at all; or
  4. The accused person honestly believed, held on reasonable grounds that the complainant provided consent; or
  5. The accused person was aware that the complainant did not consent.

It is important to be aware that, where the complainant is under-age, namely under 16-years of age, consent is not required to be proven. An under-age person is considered incapable of giving informed consent to have sexual intercourse.

There are a range of harsher penalties for those who commit the offence of sexual intercourse with someone under-age in NSW. This is reflected in section 66C Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).

As to defences to sexual assault charges- you will be ‘not guilty’ if you held reasonable grounds there was consent, there was a medical purpose, there was in fact consent given and where there was in fact no sexual intercourse that took place.

About Jimmy Singh

Mr. Jimmy Singh is the Principal Lawyer at Criminal Defence Lawyers Australia - Australia's Leading Criminal Defence Lawyers, Delivering Exceptional Results in all Australian Courts.

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