John Jarratt Not Guilty

, John Jarratt Not Guilty

John Jarratt Not Guilty

On Friday, a District Court Jury in the Downing Centre only took two hours to return a verdict of not guilty to the famous ‘Wolf Creek’ actor.

THE STORY

A former housemate alleged that the actor had sexually assaulted, or raped, her over 40 years ago. The actor remarked outside the Court that he was “extremely grateful” with the outcome; “I’m over the moon, I’ve got a wonderful team here.” “This is my family, and I’m just so relieved. It took 15 minutes for them to make up their mind, it was unanimous.” And finally, “No man should have to go through what I went through.” The actor, who is 66 years old now, had given evidence before the Court and the jury that he was seduced into having consensual sex with he woman in 1976 at the Sydney house they shared with his wife, Rosa Miano, and at least one other person. The woman earlier told the Court that she was woken up around 3am by Mr Jarratta ripping off her bed covers and underwear before pinning her down, covering her mouth with his hand and having sexual intercourse with her. Jarratt had maintained his innocence from the moment he was charged in August 2018, and it did not take long of the jury to decide he was telling the truth, in their unanimous verdict which took less than two hours. The alleged victim had reported the incident in late 2017 and told the jury she did not do so sooner because she feared she would not be believed.

THE LAW

Section 61I of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) (the Act) – sexual assault

Any person who has sexual intercourse with another person without the consent of the other person and who knows that the other person does not consent to the sexual intercourse is liable to imprisonment for 14 years.

Sexual assault is an act in which a person sexually touches another person without that person’s consent or coerces or physically forces a person to engage in a sexual act against their will. It is a form of sexual violence which includes rape (forced vaginal, anal or oral penetration or drug facilitated sexual assault), groping, child sexual abuse or the torture of the person in a sexual manner

Case law/Jurisdiction

An offence of Sexual Assault is strictly indictable, meaning it will be finalised in the District or Supreme Court.

The nature and elements of the offence of Sexual Assault were considered in the case of R v Beserick (1993) 30 NSWLR 510 which held:

“The Crown must prove that the complainant, being aware that it was an act of a sexual nature, did not consent to the physical act of the accused, and it is irrelevant that the complainant failed to appreciate that the act was morally and criminally wrong”.

Since Sexual Assault is a criminal offence, the burden of proof lies on the Prosecution.

The prosecution must prove the Accused’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

That is a high standard of proof that the prosecution must achieve before someone can be convicted of Sexual Assault.

To establish Sexual Assault the prosecution must prove each of the following matters beyond reasonable doubt:

  • You had sexual intercourse with another person
  • That person did not consent

You knew that person did not consent?

CONSENT

The meaning of consent has changed over time and has sparked political debate in recent years. The legislation as it stands now defines consent, in relation to a sexual activity as meaning, “if the person freely and voluntarily agrees to the sexual activity.” As per section 61HE(2) of the Crimes Act 1900 – Consent in relation to sexual offences. The section elaborates on this by discussing different circumstances, even stating that a person does not consent if they are incapacitated by intoxication or unconsciousness, or because of their age, for example.

HISTORIC CRIMES

When an allegation of sexual assault is said to have occurred over 40 years ago, it is considered a ‘historical’ offence. This poses all kinds of difficulties in the investigating and prosecuting of such a crime. Issues such as reliability of witnesses, the fleeting nature of memories, the contamination of evidence, and even the death of witnesses or a party to a crime, makes it incredibly difficult to find out what really happened. The Judge must give the jury directions to ensure the appropriate weight is placed on such evidence. For example, if a witness gives a statement that is very damaging to the Defendant’s case, but they are discussing events that occurred 40 years ago, a level of scrutiny must be placed on the reliability of this witness. Likewise, less weight (consideration) can be given to it than compelling evidence otherwise would get. This is because the prejudice a Defendant can face in such instances is overwhelming and outweighs such evidence.

To learn more about sexual offences, read up on our dedicated webpage.

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