Shame, regret factors in rape case: lawyer

Karen SweeneyAAP
Two men are standing trial accused of raping a friend in a caravan after a 21st party.
Camera IconTwo men are standing trial accused of raping a friend in a caravan after a 21st party. Credit: AAP

Shame and regret are two things jurors have been asked to consider when determining whether two men accused of raping a friend after a 21st birthday party are guilty.

Shaun Bloomfield and Luke Merryfull are both accused of raping the young woman in a caravan after a party in Balmoral, a tight-knit country town in western Victoria.

The trio were alone in a caravan in April 2016 when the woman says they raped and sexually assaulted her in the early hours of the morning.

Police were called to the property, where young people had celebrated a local woman's 21st birthday with a joint celebration marking her father's 60th birthday.

The alleged victim had intended on sleeping the night in her swag but a friend offered for her to stay in a caravan and they went in together, chatting.

They were joined by some friends including Bloomfield and Merryfull. Slowly the group dwindled until it was just the two men, then aged 21, and the woman.

Bloomfield is facing two rape charges and one of sexual assault while Merryfull is facing one charge of rape.

Both men admit they had sex with the woman, but dispute that it was not consensual and have pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutor David Cordy told a trial in Victoria's County Court on Tuesday that Merryfull had suggested the trio have a threesome, but the young woman said no.

He said Merryfull put his hands up the woman's shirt and Bloomfield put his hands down her jeans.

Mr Cordy said the woman used her elbows to try removing their hands, and said no.

He said Merryfull raped her first and then told Bloomfield "your turn" or "she's all yours" before leaving the caravan.

Bloomfield raped her next, he said.

The woman made multiple attempts to message and call friends afterwards and her parents and police were called.

Merryfull's DNA was found on forensic swabs taken from her. Both men were arrested later that night.

Bloomfield's lawyer Rishi Nathwani told the court his client thought the woman was consenting, or reasonably believed she was.

He asked the jury to consider what people at the party thought about the way the young woman was behaving during the evening, about Bloomfield's mood and behaviour, and their actions afterwards.

"Was there any reason for young people engaging in consensual sexual activity in groups to then feel shame?" he asked.

"Will there be any evidence of anyone feeling regret immediately after, perhaps, they consented?"

Richard Edney, for Merryfull, said his client too did not dispute that

He urged the jury to consider what the woman had said to others after the incident and decide if they could use any of that information to assess her reliability and credibility as a witness.

The jury was told they would hear from the woman on Thursday, with pre-recorded evidence from an earlier trial to be played before she is cross-examined.

Lawyers and jurors will be required to providing a negative rapid antigen test before they attend the hearing, happening in person, when the trial resumes on Thursday.

The accused men are on bail.

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