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Teen Raped During 000 Delay

A HOMELESS teenage girl was raped in the 50 minutes it took for police to respond to her Triple-0 emergency phone call, a court has heard.
In the Court of Appeal, a man whose name was suppressed was appealing a nine-year sentence for rape and indecent dealing.
The court was told the girl was 14 and living on the streets in Ipswich.
The court was told that in the early hours of February 24, 2003, she met up with three men and agreed to go nightclubbing with them. Later, she went with the men to a motorcycle club premises where they consumed more alcohol before all four left.
However, the man and the girl later returned to the club where she fell asleep.
The court was told the girl awoke to find the man performing oral sex on her.
She immediately got up, grabbed her clothing, went straight to the phone and called police on Triple-0.
But the court was told police did not arrive for about 50 minutes, during which time the man stopped the girl from leaving, indecently dealt with her and then raped her.
It was alleged the man told the girl: "If I am going to jail for this, I might as well finish."
When police arrived, the man had claimed the girl told him she was 16 and that sexual activity had been consensual.
He also denied having threatened to hit her with a pool cue.
However, the man ultimately pleaded guilty to rape, indecent treatment of a child under 16 and deprivation of liberty.
He was sentenced to nine years when he appeared in the District Court in Ipswich in July.
He appealed on the grounds his nine-year term was excessive when compared with other cases where little actual violence was involved.
In a 2-1 decision, the Court of Appeal upheld the appeal and reduced the man's sentence to eight years with a recommendation for parole after 3? years.
Justice John Jerrard said the limited force used made the case one where an eight-year sentence should have been imposed.
However, the dissenting judge, Justice Ros Atkinson said she would have dismissed the appeal and the sentence was within the appropriate range.
She said an aggravating fact was the man's attack on the girl persisted and in fact increased after she had sought police help.
More than a third of police calls are not immediately attended because resources are not available, according to police records obtained by The Courier-Mail.
Average response times for routine calls in most of the state average more than 50 minutes, with Logan taking 96 minutes.
Unlike other states, Queensland does not benchmark its normal response times or publicise them in its annual report.
Police Superintendent Bob Atkinson has acknowledged "there is always scope for us to improve" response times but has declined to answer questions on how that would be done.

The Courier-Mail (3-12-2005)
Mark Oberhardt/ Tuck Thompson


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