'Callous, cruel' Newcastle rapist jailed

A 22-year-old Newcastle man who raped a woman at knifepoint in her home will spend at least 10 years behind bars for what a judge called a "callous, cruel and violent" crime.

On Friday afternoon, Acting Judge Helen Latham ordered that Jonah Somasundaram remain behind bars for at most 14 years for a robbery and sexual assault in a North Lambton residence on July 29, 2021.

"This was a sustained, terrifying ordeal inflicted on the victim by a complete stranger ... It was callous, cruel and violent," the judge said in Newcastle District Court.

"This offender was fully aware of the serious nature of the assault ... The offender persisted ... in the face of the victim's protest and struggle."

Earlier on Friday, Somasundaram told the court he did not know why he committed the sexual assault.

"I honestly don't know what was going through my mind at the time," he said via an online link from prison.

"I can't understand why I done it. It's not something I'd normally do."

He pleaded guilty to one count of armed robbery and two counts of aggravated sexual assault on June 22 this year.

In delivering her sentence, Acting Judge Latham also took into account two alternative counts of aggravated sexual assault.

Somasundaram said he had an argument with his father and had polished off two six-packs of beer before he arrived at the 20-year-old victim's home.

He broke in expecting to steal money before stumbling across the victim wearing a hoodie sitting at her desk. He told the court he grabbed a steak knife from the kitchen thinking the woman was actually a man.

After taking the victim's Samsung mobile phone and ordering her to remove all her clothes, he then forced himself upon her, demanding she call him her "bitch" and penetrating her multiple times.

During a struggle, which ensued after the victim got hold of the knife, she suffered from a slash wound across her hand.

In a brief victim impact statement read to the court, the woman spoke of how the attack had disrupted her life, made it difficult for her to trust and made her terrified of future home invasions.

"The incident has made me more wary of men and suspicious of people I don't know, making it hard for me to make friends," she wrote.

Somasundaram was asked how he felt about these comments from the victim.

"It makes me feel sick and ashamed. I wish it never happened," he said.

Defence counsel Ben Bickford said that while Somasundaram appeared "emotionally blunted" during his evidence, his remorse was real.

"That doesn't mean necessarily that his remorse is contrived. It doesn't mean it's not real," he told the court.

Crown prosecutors said the attack was prolonged and all about obtaining sexual gratification.

"It would have been a nightmare for (the victim), terrifying, humiliating," the court was told.

In jail since his arrest on July 30, 2022, Somasundaram admitted getting into fights with other inmates and being twice disciplined for brewing prison-made alcohol.

He said he had caught COVID-19 twice while behind bars and impacted by pandemic lockdowns.

Acting Judge Latham took Somasundaram's arduous time in prison into account when imposing her sentence. She also adjusted his jail-time because of his youth and added a 25 per cent discount because of his guilty pleas.

However, she noted that his prospects of rehabilitation were "uncertain" because he had not shown the capacity to realise the impacts of his crime and had failed to acknowledge his issues with alcohol.

He could have a high risk of reoffending if inebriated, the judge said.

Somasundaram told the court he would undergo whatever treatment programs were offered in jail, saying his completion of the Salvation Army's eight-week Positive Lifestyle Program had taught him valuable lessons including how to think before he acted.