A woman who was raped by a family friend as a teenager has told her attacker of the profound impact his crimes have had on her life, in a powerful victim impact statement delivered to a Wollongong court.
The victim spoke in the Wollongong District Court on Friday ahead of the sentencing of 53-year-old Brett Brunker, who pleaded guilty last year to aggravated indecent assault of a child under 16 and aggravated sexual assault.
Judge Andrew Haesler sentenced Brunker to four years' imprisonment, with a non-parole period of two years, for his crimes.
The victim was 15 years old when she went to stay with Brunker at his home in a northern Wollongong suburb for a short time in the 1990s.
Brunker was a good friend of her father and trusted by the family.
On the first night of her stay, Brunker - then aged in his early 30s - went into the room where the victim was in bed and got in beside her.
He partially undressed her, put her hand on his erect penis, and raped her.
The girl was pushed against the wall and could not move.
"She said she tried to scream, but no noise came out," Judge Haesler said.
The victim did not tell her parents for nine years, and in 2019 the victim contacted police for a second time and gave a detailed statement.
Police then secretly recorded a conversation between the victim and Brunker, who made partial admissions to the crime, but said his memory was that she was much younger when the crimes occurred.
Brunker ultimately accepted responsibility for the offending after his arrest last year.
"Brett, what you did to me destroyed my life, before it even had a chance to begin," the victim said in court on Friday.
She said his crimes told her she was not worthy of respect, had left her with a secret that gave her nightmares, and had dealt her a life sentence.
"I wasn't a toy for you to play with, I was a human being," she said.
She told her rapist that she was not afraid of him anymore.
The victim said Brunker's crimes had also "shattered" her father.
But she said she appreciated that she was spared the ordeal of a trial.
The victim also thanked the court for giving her the opportunity to "finally have a voice as an adult, as my childhood voice was never heard".
Brunker's defence counsel, Graeme Morrison, told the court his client had a learning disability and an intellectual disability.
He submitted that Brunker had good prospects of rehabilitation, with employment open to him upon his release from prison, the support of his family, and his pleas of guilty.
Crown prosecutor Natalie Olender said Brunker had been in a position of trust and authority in relation to his victim, and she had been vulnerable due to the distance from her family.
In sentencing, Judge Haesler said Brunker "failed to have regard to [the victim] as a human being".
The victim's impact statement reflected the common and tragic response to crimes of this nature, Judge Haesler said, but it also showed a degree of resilience and compassion on her part.
The judge said he took into account Brunker's acceptance of responsibility and noted that the offending appeared to be a one-off.
He said the delay between the offending and sentencing also had to be considered.
Judge Haesler noted that Brunker had a "dysfunctional" childhood and a long employment history.
Brunker had no other offending to his name, and Judge Haesler said this showed he had the ability to lead a "pro-social" life.
He said he would be more vulnerable in custody, and found there were special circumstances to justify a lower minimum term of imprisonment.
Judge Haesler assessed Brunker's prospects of rehabilitation as very good.
He said it was a tragedy that Brunker had to be imprisoned, given his background, but an even greater tragedy was his crime and the impact it had on his victim.
Brunker will become eligible for release in January 2023.
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