ACT News

Man allegedly snatched woman's handbag, used it to demand sex

A man has been accused of snatching a woman's handbag in Glebe Park and using it to demand sex from her.

John Bul Atem, 26 of Kaleen, saw the woman as she walked from the Civic bus interchange to meet a friend late on Saturday night.

He knew her through a mutual acquaintance and began walking with her through Glebe Park, prosecutors say.

In the park, he allegedly asked her for a kiss, and then for sex.

She says she said no, and prosecutors allege he grabbed her handbag.

It is alleged that the woman said "give me my handbag", to which he replied "give me sex".


The woman told police that she didn't want to leave without her handbag, so she agreed to his requests.

The pair allegedly had sex multiple times in the park, and Atem did not give her the handbag back.

He allegedly followed her when she left, and she walked straight to police and told them what had happened.

Atem was arrested and allegedly told police "but she agreed".

Police say he became violent and non-compliant while at the ACT Watch House, forcing them to restrain him.

It is also alleged that he smashed a cordless phone he was using to speak with Chief Magistrate Lorraine Walker.

Atem appeared in the ACT Magistrates Court on Monday, accused of five counts of rape and one of property damage.

He applied for bail, but it was denied by Special Magistrate Ken Cush.

Mr Cush said he was concerned about Atem's violent history, the fact that he was on a good behaviour order at the time of the allegations, and that he knew the victim.

He said there was a risk he would not appear in court or would interfere with the witness.

Atem's Legal Aid lawyer described the allegations as "rather remarkable".

He said his client had previously been on a psychiatric treatment order and was currently receiving the disability support pension.

The complainant, he argued, lived some distance away, and conditions could be imposed to prevent Atem from contacting her.

Earlier on Monday morning, ACT Policing issued a plea for a witness to come forward.

In a media statement, police said the woman reported a Caucasian man watching in Glebe Park.

They urged that man to contact police operations on 131 444 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.