Two men who raped a woman in a caravan after she refused a threesome have walked free after their “very lenient” sentences were upheld in Victoria’s highest court.
Shaun Bloomfield and Luke Merryfull returned before the Court of Appeal on Friday where a panel of three judges rejected an appeal by prosecutors, who argued their sentences were “manifestly inadequate”.
Both men were jailed in 2019 after raping a young woman in a caravan at a 21st birthday party in regional Victoria in April 2016 when they were 21-years-old.
But after 19 months in custody, the pair had their convictions overturned when a witness came forward with new evidence and a retrial was ordered.
The two men faced three retrials over the coming years before a jury found Bloomfield guilty of two counts of rape and one count of sexual assault and Merryfull guilty of one count of rape in August last year.
Both men have maintained the incident was consensual and have not shown any remorse.
In April, Judge David Brookes sentenced each man to time already served, placing Bloomfield on a three-year community corrections order and Merryfull on a two-year order.
“In my view, this is one of the rare cases where ordinary members of the community would not necessarily expect a further term of imprisonment be imposed,” he said.
“Each of you knew she wasn’t consenting but you went ahead believing or hoping nothing would come of it.
“It does not excuse the appalling behaviour that each of you demonstrated.”
Earlier this year the Director of Public Prosecutions, Kerri Judd KC, appealed the sentences arguing Judge Brookes had made mistakes in his sentencing calculation and the sentences were manifestly inadequate.
It was argued too much weight was given to Bloomfield and Merryfull’s efforts at rehabilitation during the seven-year delay.
But Justices Karin Emerton, Cameron Macaulay and Lesley Taylor rejected the appeal, finding they were unable to conclude that the sentences were inadequate.
“The sentences imposed by the judge are undoubtedly very lenient,” they wrote.
“However, after anxious consideration we are unable to conclude, in the unique circumstances of this case, that they are manifestly inadequate.
“There is nothing to indicate that his Honour did not appropriately balance (all sentencing considerations).”