Victim speaks of ‘terror’ after being sexually assault
One of the victims of a Sydney man found guilty of sexually assaulting four women he met on dating apps Bumble and RSVP has told a court of the "terror" she felt as she was attacked.
David Gabrieli fronted Sydney's Downing Centre courts on Wednesday afternoon for a sentencing hearing.
In September, he was found guilty on 19 out of 22 charges including 11 counts of indecent assault, six counts of sexual intercourse without consent, one count of aggravated sexual assault including actual bodily harm on the victim and one count of detaining for advantage.
The offending related to four women the 39-year-old from France met via the apps and then assaulted on the dating apps at his apartment in Maroubra, in Sydney's east, between August 2017 and January 2018.
During the trial, Crown Prosecutor Sally Traynor said Gabrieli had a "ruse" to lure the women to his unit.
This involved arranging to meet at a location such as a cafe but then finding a reason why the women should come to his flat instead.
He would also use fake photos on his profile, allegedly including a professional footballer, and pretend he was a doctor.
Ms Traynor said Gabrieli followed a script and "was not prepared to deviate from it at all even when the complainant said no".
She asked the jury to "utterly reject the evidence you heard from the accused that (the women) were willing participants in the sexual events and in that all four cases the events unexpectedly turned sour".
Speaking through a friend, one of the victims, who cannot be identified, said she had been working in a lab at a university in Sydney on January 18, 2018.
She had agreed to meet Gabrieli, who she had chatted to online, that night but was considering cancelling as she was tired.
"My friends encouraged me to go. 'He seems nice, you might have fun,' they said."
In the victim impact statement read out in court, she said she sent a screenshot of the date and the name he used to a friend: "It was a tiny 'what if' reassurance that I never thought I'd need."
But that small worry was warranted.
Gabrieli had told his victim to meet him not where they had previously arranged but at his unit instead.
"He said he was a doctor on call, he came across as professional; he said he had a headache, he raised my sympathies," she said.
"His string of lies was plausible enough. Before that I had never come across someone who had embellished so successfully."
When Gabrieli opened the door, the woman immediately realised it was not the same man as in the Bumble app photos; that his images were fake.
"I blamed myself for not seeing through it. Why did I go to his flat? Why didn't I run? But I had never met anyone like him.
"Maybe we would just talk and then I'd leave?" she wondered.
"But what happened next changed my life. When no one knows where you are, you suddenly realise how powerless you are.
"No one tells you how horrifically alone it is. After he took what he wanted I had to let strangers take more things from me: my hair cut, my body swabbed.
"I couldn't bear the thought of him hurting someone else. But he did, I was one of many, I couldn't stop him. Someone else felt the same terror, the same awfulness."
The women said there was now a "shadow" around everyone she met.
"You try to bury it, you think you can burn it out of you, but you can never forget it. You cry in the shower; you suddenly can't breathe. Even being accidentally touched made me panic."
When Gabrieli was arrested she said there was a "relief" at people knowing "it wasn't my fault".
"I finally felt here might be some safety in the country I called home.
"I will carry it with me. But there are things I want to achieve regardless of what he did."
In a swipe at Gabrieli's lies about being a doctor, she said she wanted to become one.
"I have been offered a PhD. It will be satisfying to be a doctor. A real doctor."
Appearing in court in blue-grey suit, white shirt and with his head shaved, Gabrieli said he had no legal representation and that he had struggled to get legal aid for this part of the process.
Through a French translator, he asked the judge to defer sentencing so he could obtain psychiatric reports, university documentation from France and other documents.
Justice Nicole Noman noted that Gabrieli had already been on remand for two and a half years and had failed to provide documentation at previous court appearances relating to his sentencing.
"I'm not here to waste time," Gabrieli said.
"It's not in your interest to remain on remand. It's in your interest for this matter to move forward," she replied.
The sentencing will continue on June, 18.
Additional reporting by Sarah McPhee.
Originally published as Moment 'date' turned into nightmare