Rape victim felt ‘violated, uneasy, reluctant to leave home’, court hears

A woman raped by two men who found her intoxicated on a footpath after a night out in Melbourne says she was filled with “extreme anger and frustration” at being unable to remember what happened on the night that changed her life.

The woman, who cannot be named, was repeatedly raped by Harley Jarthur Palise and Jarrod Vincent Thomas, after they and other friends found her lying outside a 7-Eleven store in Lygon Street, Carlton, about 4am on June 17, 2018. The two groups – the men, and the woman and her friend – were separately partying in Melbourne hours earlier.

Harley Palise is awaiting sentence after a jury found him guilty of two counts of rape.

But after Thomas and Palise put the woman in their ute, they pulled over in a Coburg street and repeatedly raped her. They then drove her to her home. Thomas later boasted to a friend he and Palise were “tag-teaming”.

Palise, 30, was in August found guilty of two charges of rape after a County Court jury rejected his defence the woman consented to sex. He is in prison awaiting sentence, while Thomas, 26, was last year jailed for 6½ years after pleading guilty to two counts of rape.

On Wednesday, Palise faced court again for a pre-sentence hearing, during which prosecutor John Dickie read the woman’s victim impact statement, which detailed the emotional impact she suffered.

“I sought counselling to address feelings of anxiety and depression and to deal with the extreme anger and frustration I felt regarding not being able to recall the events of the night of the incident,” the woman said.

Jarrod Thomas was jailed after pleading guilty to two counts of rape.

“I have not had the desire to go out at night or anywhere near the city since the night of the incident. I felt violated, uneasy and reluctant to leave the house.”

The woman said she sold her house out of concern the men knew where she lived, no longer trusted strangers and preferred the company of small groups of family and close friends. She said her pregnancy last year was stressful while the case was before the courts.

“My life will be impacted in the foreseeable future as a result of the incident,” she said.

Palise is due to become a father again in a fortnight, after a stint on bail before and during his trial, and he cried when the court heard he would miss the first years of his son’s life and important years with his daughter, now aged 10.

The men found the woman outside this 7-Eleven store in Lygon Street, Carlton.Credit:Eddie Jim

“That is a hardship he will have to bear,” defence barrister John Kelly, SC, said.

Palise told the jury the woman made advances on him and consented to sex. But prosecutors argued she was in no state to consent because she was intoxicated by either alcohol or drugs, and Mr Dickie reiterated it “stretched credulity” to suggest she could have.

“That’s why she was picked up. She was picked up because she was on the ground,” he said.

Judge Scott Johns also said he had difficulty accepting Palise’s claims in the witness box.

Palise’s offending came months after his release from prison for bombarding a former partner with abusive calls and text messages and forcing her into his car and driving her around for about 45 minutes. He also has a prior conviction for threatening another former partner.

Mr Dickie described the rape as “abhorrent” that sexually debased the woman, and that the men had “viewed her as something they could use for their own pleasure”.

While Thomas had no previous criminal history, the prosecutor said Palise held a concerning attitude towards women and there was an element of “victim-blaming” over his defence.

Mr Kelly said his client’s offending was opportunistic and not accompanied by force or threats. But he conceded it was aggravating there were two offenders, and neither used a condom.

Palise, a floor sander, is to be sentenced in December.

Thomas must serve three years and 11 months and will be eligible for parole next year. Prosecutors argued his sentence was manifestly inadequate but the Court of Appeal dismissed the challenge.

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