Appeals Court rape decision puts past verdicts in question

A BUNDABERG man has been granted a new trial after the Queensland Court of Appeal found a trial judge did not give adequate directions about consent.

Shannon Robert Dunrobin was sentenced to 14 years jail after he was found guilty at a trial in Bundaberg District Court of five counts of rape and one assault.

But the High Court quashed one of the rape convictions and asked the state appeal court to consider whether the incorrect verdict compromised all other verdicts in a poisoned well.

Dunrobin, aged 29 to 30 at the time, had argued he was in a loving non-violent relationship with his alleged victim and the sexual interaction occurred after the teen's18th birthday.

The boy testified he was aged 17 and 18 when he was subjected to numerous episodes of oral and anal sex over 18 months.

The assault charge related to allegations Dunrobin burned the teen's nipple with a lighter.

He said he did not truly consent because Dunrobin used force, threats, intimidation, fear and exercised authority over him to perform the sexual acts.

The Queensland Court of Appeal originally dismissed the appeal but, in a judgment handed down on Friday, ordered new trials after a second look at the evidence.

Justice David Boddice said the judge's directions about consent failed to help the jury decide whether Dunrobin had "honestly and reasonably but mistakenly believed" the teen had consented to the sexual acts.

"This failure to adequately direct the jury ... deprived the appellant of the opportunity for the jury to properly consider the central issue in his defence of the charges," he said.

The trial will be heard at a date to be fixed.

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