Brutal rapist sentenced to 14 years jail

MERBEIN man Thomas Wayne Mitchell has been sentenced to 14 years jail for the rape of a highly vulnerable and disabled woman who says the offence has left her “petrified of men” and suffering severe depression.

In sentencing yesterday Judge John Smallwood described Mitchell’s actions on the night of February 20 last year as “brutal”.

He said the offences were further aggravated by the victim’s two children being home at the time, the fact that Mitchell was a stranger, the rape took place with force and violence and the victim was unable to defend herself due to her impairments as a result of her multiple sclerosis.

The 40-year-old was found guilty of two counts of rape and aggravated burglary by a jury during a six day trial before the County Court in Mildura two weeks ago.

Yesterday Judge Smallwood said the fact that the case went to trial showed a “total lack of remorse” and was concerned about his likelihood of rehabilitation.

He said it was highly likely Mitchell did not remember anything that took place that night and so concocted his own versions of events, including giving sworn evidence during the trial when he claimed the victim did not have any physical ailments, which the judge said was “palpable nonsense”.

The woman, who is mostly wheelchair bound, was using a walking frame on the night of the offence when Mitchell twice attended her Merbein home and on the second visit, twice raped her in her kitchen.

Judge Smallwood yesterday said he acknowledged Mitchell had a difficult upbringing and suffered from family violence at the hands of his father from a young age.

Mitchell became a father himself at the age of 14 and had contact with the baby for one month before its mother moved away and ceased all contact, which the judge said had been a point of difficulty for Mitchell.

The court was also told Mitchell had spent no more than six months out of jail since the age of 14 when he turned to alcohol and later developed an ice habit.

After labelling the offences as a “gross crime against a totally defenceless woman” Judge Smallwood sentenced Mitchell to 14 years jail with a non-parole period of eight years, four months.

He has served six months in pre-sentence detention.

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