Man jailed for rape of local girl

A TRADESMAN who moved to Gympie for work was sentenced yesterday to four years in prison for raping a 17-year-old local girl at a party last year.

Geoffrey Peter Bragg, 24, pleaded guilty to the charge in Gympie District Court the day before the matter was to go to trial. He admitted forcing himself upon the 17-year-old despite having little memory of the night due to intoxication.

The court heard Bragg and the girl “hooked up” at a party in May, 2009, and were having a “good time” until Bragg tried to have sex with her and wouldn't take no for an answer.

In sentencing, Judge Brian Devereaux, said Bragg forced the girl to have sex against her will, either because he was too drunk to notice her numerous cries of “stop” and “no” or because he just didn't care.

“She used your size and weight to overpower her,” he said and told the court it was some months before a complaint was made to police however Bragg never denied the allegations.

An apology was the first thing on the agenda when defence barrister Mark Johnston spoke on behalf of his client.

He said it had been impossible for Bragg to apologise to the complainant before then, given he had been in custody since the day he found out about it.

“At no stage has he ever disputed the allegations. He has persistently and constantly said he has little memory of the night. Given the way time lapsed between the date of the offence and the complaint... lack of evidence that could have been cross examined (was not available).”

The court heard Bragg had asked the girl to go outside with him to chat under the house. She sat on a ledge and he stood in front of her and they kissed.

Bragg removed the girl's underwear while ignoring her protests and used all his weight to push himself onto her while he had her pinned from behind by a large box.

During her interview with police she said Bragg seemed to laugh at her and acted as if it was a game, saying “it's okay, I do it all the time”. When the ordeal was over, the distressed girl ran off down the street and was helped by friends and members of the public.

The court heard Bragg was new to the area, having moved from the Sunshine Coast for a job. No one knew who he was at the time and he was not identified until after the formal complaint was made.

Mr Johnston said Bragg was a binge drinker who spent up to $600 some weeks on alcohol. The court heard on the night in question he was heavily intoxicated, having drunk at least half a carton of pre-mix cans of rum and coke as well as vodka, beer and other spirits. He explained what Bragg meant by his comment was that he would pick up girls at nightclubs all the time.

Crown prosecutor Chris Minnery told the court that while the complainant had consumed four pre-mix drinks, she did not think she was drunk.

He asked for Bragg to be sentenced to four years in prison to serve 16 months and said while Bragg may not have been thinking when he did it, he certainly wasn't thinking of his victim.

Justice Devereaux took into account Bragg's lack of criminal history and sentenced him to four years to serve 15 months with the 224 days in pre-sentence custody taken as time served.

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