Stranger's fate now rests with Dutton after rape in caravan

AN IPSWICH court has heard how a man walked into a caravan and raped a stranger.

Abu Bakarr Bah entered the unlocked van as the female victim slept.

Convicted of her rape, and attempted rape, Bah, a refugee from Africa's war-ravaged Sierra Leone, now fears deportation back to a country he fled as a child orphan.

His parents were killed in the civil strife and the District Court in Ipswich heard he had no relatives there.

Bah, 25, pleaded guilty to rape and attempted rape at Gatton in March 2017.

In the sentencing matter heard before Judge Alexander Horneman-Wren SC, there was discussion of the Commonwealth Migration Act (particularly section 501) and the likely consequences for Bah in submissions by defence barrister Robert Carroll and Crown prosecutor Clayton Wallis.

Judge Horneman-Wren had queried his making of any sentencing orders or Bah's ability to comply with them, if he risked going into immigration detention on release from jail.

It was believed it would not be automatic Bah would be taken from the custody of Queensland Corrective Services upon release and taken to an immigration detention facility.

It was agreed Bah would fail the character test on his conviction and that his fate lay with the decision by the Federal Minister.

Bah had already spent 15 months in jail, waiting for his case to be finalised.

In an unusual twist, the court had a letter from the jail operators stating Bah was considered to be well behaved.

Mr Carroll revealed Bah had made efforts to improve himself in jail, saying he was a very remorseful man.

He had been drinking at the time of the offence but has since given up drinking.

Mr Carroll said Bah was intoxicated and had been whispering into the woman's ear about how she was going.

Mr Carroll said it was clear there had previously been some use of drugs as well as his issues with alcohol.

"He says he doesn't want to drink anymore. Doesn't want to smoke any more," Mr Carroll said.

"He wants to work. Wants to be close to his family.

"He has been in the workers' unit (of jail) as a welder. He exercises, reads, writes and draws. He has graduated from a shared cell to a single cell.

"It has been a lonely time for him. He has not received a single phone call or visit from anyone he knows."

He then spent 11 years in a refugee camp until arriving in Australia aged 19. He suffers nightmares.

"He moved to Gatton to satisfy work for the dole requirements (of Centrelink)," he said.

Judge Horneman-Wren told Bah his offences were "utterly abhorrent".

"You were drunk but that was absolutely no excuse," he said.

"It had a devastating effect on her.

"She resorted to alcohol and drugs to deal with the emotional impacts of rape.

"She resorted to self-harm and she became homeless, saying she wanted to die."

"Thankfully she is recently making improvements in her life. Hopefully this continues."

Judge Horneman-Wren sentenced Bah to four years' jail.

With 15 months already served, (just short of the usual one-third marker that many offenders serve) he was released to parole.

The remainder of the sentence was suspended for five years.

  • Need to talk? Call 1800 737 732 to speak to someone from the National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service. 

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