Marriage does not entitle a husband to demand sex from his wife against her will, a Canberra judge has warned.
Justice Hilary Penfold made the comments before jailing a Canberra man who raped his estranged wife in a deserted Acton car park earlier this year.
“This was a particularly nasty sexual assault in the sense that it appears to have involved [the man] using a sexual violation to assert his power over his wife,” Justice Penfold said.
The man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the victim, pleaded guilty in the ACT Supreme Court to sexual intercourse without consent and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
The court heard the 22-year marriage had broken down earlier this year and the pair had made several attempts to reconcile.
In April, they went to dinner but left the restaurant after arguing.
They continued to talk in the defendant’s car which he parked in a deserted car park near Lake Burley Griffin in Acton.
The man then forced the woman to have sex with him, before telling her not to get dressed because he may want intercourse again.
He then put a strip of blanket around her mouth and used it to pull her head back against the seat’s headrest.
The victim struggled and he pulled the blanket around her neck.
She managed to break the passenger side window and escaped after a struggle outside the car.
The victim suffered bruising, four loose teeth, swollen lips, cut and abrasions as a result of the attack.
The defendant was arrested later that evening and has been in custody since.
A victim impact statement said the aftermath of the attack had left the woman feeling dirty, contaminated and humiliated.
She remains psychologically frail and was struggling financially because she could not continue working in hospitality.
The court heard the defendant was a gambling addict, who owed $27,000.
In 2010, the family had been forced to sell their home to pay off debts.
A gambling counsellor said he had attended sessions to take control of his addiction.
Justice Penfold accepted it seemed unlikely the man would re-offend, but warned a marriage did not entitle a husband to demand sex from his wife against her will.
The judge said the attack was a breach of the trust the victim had placed in her husband by agreeing to continue their conversation in a deserted location in which she was entirely at his mercy.
“Any such violations will be treated seriously, irrespective of the relationship between the parties,” the judge said.
Justice Penfold jailed the man for four years and nine months, backdated to take into account time spent in custody.
He will be eligible for parole in October 2015.
“This is a tragic case for your whole family, and you are right to accept responsibility for the damage that has been done,” the judge said.
“I hope that you will take full advantage, while in prison, of the opportunities for turning your life around so as to ensure that you need never come before the courts again and, perhaps more importantly, to ensure that you never again do such terrible things to people that you love.”