A Bellambi teenager accused of the joint rape of a 15-year-old girl in a deserted park at Woonona in the middle the night has been granted strict conditional bail after his lawyer criticised the strength of the case against him in court.
Tristian Winter and his co-accused are alleged to have vaginally, anally and orally raped the teen after meeting her by chance in Nicholson Park in the early hours of November 24 last year.
The girl was at the park alone, sitting on play equipment, when the two men approached her and struck up a conversation.
It is alleged they both started kissing and fondling the teen before the trio moved underneath the play equipment and their behaviour allegedly escalated to joint penetrative rape.
Once finished, the co-accused put his mobile number in the girl’s phone before either he or Winter jokingly told her “I hope you don’t get pregnant”.
The men then rode off on their push bikes, leaving the teen alone in the park.
She underwent a sexual assault examination in Wollongong Hospital later that morning where it was discovered she had multiple bruises and red marks on her thighs, knees, breasts, lower back and buttocks. The matter was subsequently reported to police.
In court on Wednesday, defence lawyer Laura Fennell said consent would be a “live issue” at trial with suggestions Winter was unaware of the teen’s true age.
“There’s a number of factors that will make it difficult for the Crown to prove that [the sex] was without consent and that there was knowledge there was no consent,” she said.
The court heard Winter, who has no criminal history, had recently won a casual job at the University of Wollongong doing peer research.
Prosecutors opposed Winter’s bail application, claiming he presented an unacceptable risk to community safety if released.
However, Magistrate Follent agreed to grant Winterbail, noting the allegations did not involve any suggestion of either man using force or coercion.
As part of his bail, Winter will be required to abide by strict conditions including that he live with his mother in Bellambi, report to police daily, abide by a nighttime curfew and agree to stay out of the suburb of Woonona.
The case was adjourned to June 6 for further mention.