Neighbour raped in her home

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By Cam Lucadou-Wells

A man has been jailed for up to 11 years after breaking into a former neighbour’s house in Doveton and repeatedly raping her.

Amith Warnakulasuriye, 33, was found guilty by a County Court of Victoria jury of three counts of rape, aggravated burglary and other offences of violence.

Warnakulasuriye had maintained his not-guilty plea, and showed no remorse, Judge Susan Pullen said in sentencing on 10 December.

She said the “serious” offending was aggravated by being degrading, significantly violent, premeditated to a degree and without a condom.

The former Sri Lankan refugee had preyed on the 46-year-old neighbour, who was home alone watching TV, in March 2017.

About 9pm, he’d knocked at the door. He was pushed back outside after he tried to kiss her and declared his long-held love for her.

She had not known him well, but for saying hello and occasionally lending him a cigarette or bus fare, the court heard.

Half an hour later, he returned through an unlocked back door. If she was “nice”, he wouldn’t kill her, he told her.

During the struggle, the victim suffered a head knock, possibly against bricks. She was raped three times and told not to tell anyone or he would kill her.

The victim reported the matter and identified the culprit to a neighbour and to police that night.

“Her life has not been the same since you raped her,” the judge told Warnakulasuriye.

She was wracked with anxiety around unfamiliar males, social isolation and her relationship broke down. She blamed herself for being “nice” and “trusting”.

Warnakulasuriye, who had moved away months before the attack, denied being at the house that night.

His mobile phone was pinged in the vicinity of the victim’s street. There was also a strong DNA match, the court heard.

Warnakulasuriye’s parents were killed in Sri Lanka when he was 10. He and his younger brother were fostered by various families and slept on the streets.

In 2009, he journeyed by boat to Christmas Island. After detention, he was housed in Dandenong North on a temporary protection visa.

He had since gained permanent residency and there was no evidence of him being at risk of deportation, the court heard.

At 20, he had been repeatedly struck to the face with a bottle in a vicious assault. He was left permanently scarred, stopped work and started drinking heavily, Judge Pullen noted.

He had no long-term relationships. He found it difficult to date due to his disfigurement, the court heard.

Judge Pullen accepted that Warnakulasuriye would suffer more in prison due to his post-traumatic stress. He had been transferred between prisons due to being bullied.

His rehabilitative prospects were “guarded”, Judge Pullen said.

Warnakulasuriye was already serving a jail term from the County Court in December 2018 for robbery, aggravated burglary, threat to kill, intentionally causing injury and assault.

Under the ‘totality’ principle, Judge Pullen took into account that he had been in custody since May 2017.

She didn’t deduct his 570 days in pre-sentence remand, which had been counted in the 2018 sentence.

 

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