Judge slams rideshare rapist’s excuse for attack

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A judge has hit out at the notion a man can relieve his emotional turmoil by sexually assaulting a vulnerable young woman.

County Court Judge Liz Gaynor made the remarks in Monday’s pre-sentence hearing for Abdouslam Alsharif, whose own lawyer described his conduct as disgraceful, predatory and grievously unconscionable.

County Court Judge Liz Gaynor during a 2020 hearing.

Alsharif, a father of five in his 50s, has admitted raping and sexually assaulting a woman who thought she was getting into a rideshare car when leaving a birthday celebration in Melbourne’s inner north in April 2021.

The woman, then 22, got in the front passenger seat and Alsharif locked the door.

He drove the car around the block before raping and sexually assaulting her.

She sent her location to a friend and when the friend couldn’t reach her they called emergency services.

The woman was picked up by police and taken to hospital. Alsharif was identified using DNA and CCTV footage.

The court heard Alsharif had a difficult history in the decade before his offending, which included becoming persona non grata in his native Libya after the fall of the Gaddafi regime, during which he and his family had been well looked after and cared for.

Defence barrister Luke Barker said Alsharif’s offending was serious and deserved to be punished justly, but highlighted that the crime was situational and not premeditated.

Barker said his client was a vulnerable man who had experienced a great deal of psychological distress.

But Gaynor said that was no excuse, despite turmoil being something she often saw in court.

“It is not for men, such as your client, to take out their own emotional anguish and difficulties by the sexual assault of a young woman,” the judge said.

Some men saw women as an object to assist them, Gaynor said, or something to help themselves to in a time of personal difficulty.

“[There is] this notion of a man in turmoil – something clicks over in his head and the way to relieve that is by sexually assaulting a woman,” she said.

“Men cannot and must not, and if they do, there will be very strong consequences.”

Gaynor praised the woman’s courage in speaking in court about the assault and its impact on her.

The victim said she had read comments online about what happened to her, which including people joking about the assault and blaming her.

She was also the subject of a cruel meme.

“It’s extraordinary, I cannot believe people can be so hideously cruel,” Gaynor said.

Alsharif, who has a PhD in marine biology, will be sentenced on Friday.


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