Australia DNA will prove man innocent of raping elderly Tasmanian woman, lawyer says

10:57  02 july  2018
10:57  02 july  2018 Source:   abc.net.au

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A man who is alleged to have raped an elderly woman in her home in 2015 did not commit the crime and DNA evidence will prove it, his lawyer says, with a court hearing the victim told her attacker she "prayed God would forgive him".

The prosecution has alleged the accused, who cannot be named for legal reasons, broke into the West Launceston home of the 76-year-old woman in July 2015 when he was 18 years old, assaulting the woman and demanding $250 cash.

Today, in the Launceston Supreme Court, Crown prosecutor Peter Sheriff told jurors there was no doubt the incident occurred as described by the victim, but the question would be the identity of the attacker.

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Defence barrister Alan Hensley agreed the assault had taken place in 2015.

"She suffered through an awful experience. A man did enter into her home and committed each of the crimes," Mr Hensley said.

But he said the victim had not properly seen the attacker during the ordeal, nor had anyone else seen him arrive or leave the property.

'I prayed God would forgive him'

Mr Hensley said the accused had been walking home on the night of the alleged attack after drinks to celebrate his planned departure to Victoria the following day.

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The accused would have been in the West Launceston area around the time of the incident, Mr Hensley said.

In a video of the victim's July 2015 police interview played to the court, she said she woke up in a panic about 1:40am.

"My first indication that something wasn't quite right was this arm came around my neck," the woman told police at the time.

"I think he said 'settle down, it's alright.' And then I think the next words he said were, 'take your clothes off, take your clothes off'.

"I was backing away, trying to stall for time."

She told police she was screaming during the attack.

"He caused a tremendous amount of pain, it was absolutely devastating," she said.

When the attack stopped, she said she told the man she would pray for him, and he dropped to his knees.

"That probably broke his resistance to some degree. I just prayed that God would forgive him for what he was doing."

She told police the attack was over within 10 minutes.

DNA not conclusive: defence lawyer

Mr Hensley told the court a sample of DNA that showed "similarities" to the accused's was found on the woman's nightgown.

But he said it would not prove that his client was the attacker.

"You'll learn a lot about DNA in this trial," he told jurors.

Mr Hensley said the woman had described being attacked by a person with a different skin tone to the accused, and had not picked him out of a police line up or a book of photographs.

"No-one knows. No-one saw the attack. It is very much a wholly circumstantial case."

The trial is expected to continue for at least another two days.

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