ACT News

Man who raped woman during break-in tore family's life apart, court hears

James March ripped a family's life apart when he repeatedly raped a young woman he encountered during a burglary in Canberra's inner north last year. 

Now, less than a year after the horrific crime, the victim's mother has used an emotional face-to-face encounter to tell March, 27, she hopes he can turn his life around.

The mother spoke of the devastating impact the atrocious acts had on her daughter and family at a sentencing hearing in the ACT Supreme Court on Tuesday. 

The prisoner sat with his head down as he listened to the mother speak of how he had shattered the illusion of the home as a safe sanctuary. 

March went to the home in September last year, finding a young woman inside a granny flat. 

He repeatedly raped her, before threatening to come back to rape again and hurt her family.

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The crime changed everything in the victim's life, the court heard. Her boyfriend dumped her a week later, she was in a car crash, and was forced to quit her job.

''She cried for days, couldn't get up, couldn't even function,'' her mother said.

''She said to me, 'Mum, I think I'm meant to die, all these bad things keep happening to me.' ''

The family bore the crime largely on their own, and the mother spoke of how rape victims often suffer in silence.

A king hit would attract huge media attention, she said, while reports on rapes would infer blame to victims. 

Addressing March directly, she said: ''I just want to say to you, James, that you've hurt my daughter and my family very much and I really hope you use your time in jail to turn your life around.''

The court heard March was taken from his parents at an early age, has struggled with drugs, and is still rated as a high to medium risk of reoffending. 

He told a report author that ''I wasn't brought up, I was dragged up''.

Chief Justice Helen Murrell is expected to sentence March on Wednesday afternoon in the ACT Supreme Court.