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The Canberra Times
The Canberra Times
Tim Piccione

'Running for my life': Alleged victim escaped in just a T-shirt, court told

A woman who has accused her former partner of multiple rapes has described "running for my life" in nothing but a T-shirt to escape him during one of several allegedly violent incidents.

"I was terrified. I was absolutely petrified," the alleged victim told the ACT Supreme Court on Monday.

She was giving evidence as the 20-year-old accused man faced a jury after pleading not guilty to 19 charges, including multiple counts of sexual intercourse without consent, choking, suffocating or strangling, and assault.

The jury heard the accused man physically or sexually assaulted the alleged victim, who is also 20, on five separate occasions in their Greenway apartment between January and March 2022.

The man and woman started dating in July 2021 after meeting on Tinder, moving in together by September that year.

Giving evidence from a remote location, the victim detailed the first incident, on January 30, which she said forced her to escape their apartment to seek help while wearing nothing but a T-shirt.

"I felt like I was running for my life," she said.

The court heard the incident initiated when the accused began "degrading" the alleged victim by telling her he wanted a different partner, "a girl with a tighter vagina".

He allegedly held the woman's hands behind her head, telling her she "wasn't good enough" before leaving the room.

The woman then said she took the opportunity to close the door to the bedroom, angering the accused who allegedly began ramming against it, yelling for her to let him in.

"There's a click with [the accused] where he'll go from being really nice and really decent ... to doing a solid 180 and changing," the alleged victim said.

The alleged victim said the accused re-entered the bedroom and "grabbed me by the throat and pushed me up against the wall" before pulling her by the hair onto the bed, where he held her face down.

The accused then allegedly held a pillow against the woman's face "to try and suffocate" her.

"I was struggling to breathe," the alleged victim said.

"Growing up, I'd never seen this ... I don't really know what to do, what to expect. I was trying my best to get through that moment."

The court heard the alleged victim told the accused she had swallowed a sewing pin as a fabricated excuse to go to the hospital and escape the apartment.

But after the tactic reportedly failed and the alleged victim admitted to lying, the man is accused of holding her down by the head against the bed and repeatedly hitting her back and buttocks in retaliation.

"I could feel my body shake with every time he hit me," she said.

Freeing herself, the alleged victim said she vomited due to anxiety and stress while backed into a corner of the room.

She eventually escaped the apartment in a black T-shirt, running out onto the street seeking help from another building resident.

"I didn't have time to grab anything else," she said.

Police arrived soon after and the man was arrested.

Prosecutor Trent Hickey detailed four other incidents to the jury in his opening address, saying they took place within the following two months and allegedly involved multiple occasions of rape and physical violence.

The jury will hear further details on those incidents, including the accused allegedly whipping the woman with a horse riding crop.

The woman is also said to have lost consciousness due to choking while she was allegedly being raped.

Defence barrister Travis Jackson said in his opening address that the accused did not deny a sexual relationship with the alleged victim or that sexual intercourse occurred on the days in question.

"The issue is one of consent," Mr Jackson said.

Across the five incidents, the accused faces nine charges of sexual intercourse without consent, four charges of choking, suffocating or strangling, two charges of sexual assault in the third degree, two charges of act of indecency in the third degree, one charge of act of indecency and one charge of assault.

The trial, which is expected to take seven days to complete, is set to resume on Tuesday, when the alleged victim will return to give further evidence.

  • Support is available for those who may be distressed. Phone Lifeline 13 11 14; beyondblue 1300 224 636; 1800-RESPECT 1800 737 732.
The alleged victim will return to provide further evidence on Tuesday. File picture
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