US sailor sorry after alleged sex assault

By Neda Vanovac

An American sailor accused of raping a Darwin woman said his actions were wrong and he had attempted to take his own life afterwards, a court has heard.

Hugh Patrick Malone, 23, has pleaded not guilty to sexual assault, indecent assault and depriving a woman of her liberty.

Prosecutor Matthew Nathan told a Supreme Court jury on Monday that the case was an unusual one in that the accused would be a principal witness for the crown.

He said that on September 4 last year, the complainant went with two friends to Monsoons Bar in Darwin's CBD to party with American sailors from the USS Denver.

The complainant's friend had sex with Malone at his hotel room earlier that evening, and Mr Nathan told the jury that when they returned to the club, Malone began "pestering" the complainant for sexual favours.

She declined because she was involved with his fellow sailor.

He told her he needed to pick up his things from his hotel room to check out, and she accompanied him, the court heard, leading him out of the bar by the hand.

"Her intention was ... effectively to say goodbye to him, and then spend the night with her partner," Mr Nathan said in his opening address.

But upon arriving she saw the room was already empty, which is when Malone pulled her into the room, kissing her roughly before carrying her to the bed and assaulting her.

"She said no and attempted to push him off her ... Because of the futility of what she's doing to stop it she began to cry, and then he stops, allows her to stand and immediately begins to apologise for what he's done," Mr Nathan said.

She told her partner and friends what happened, but didn't immediately report the assault to police.

A few days later the complainant and Malone became Facebook friends and exchanged a series of messages, the court heard.

"I know I can't ask for your forgiveness but I would like to say sorry, and I mean that with all my heart," he wrote.

She said "it's pretty f***ed up that I'm still talking to you after what you did" and he told her he had tried to kill himself.

"What I did was so wrong," he wrote.

Defence counsel Tom Berkly said the case was one of regret, not rape.

The jury should "pay close attention to the relationship these girls and sailors had built up", he said.

The court was closed to hear the complainant's evidence.

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