Appeal over jail term for rape on boat trip rejected

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 May, 2012, 12:00am


A waiter who raped a woman flight attendant on a boat trip organised by popular disco Beijing Club in 2010 failed yesterday in his application for leave to appeal against a 61/2 year jail sentence.

Before the Court of Appeal, counsel for Laxman Gurung, 20, argued that 51/2 years would be appropriate.

But Mr Justice Michael Hartmann and Mr Justice Darryl Saw said it had been distasteful of the defendant to take advantage of the woman while she was drunk and passed out. They compared it to a pickpocket preying on a victim of a traffic accident lying unconscious on a road.

'This adds moral culpability that should be reflected in the sentence,' they said.

Gurung, a waiter at the Billion Club, which is owned by Beijing Club, was convicted in June last year of the June 27, 2010 attack on the 22-year-old victim.

Defence barrister Trevor Beel said the victim had previously testified she had no recollection of the incident because she was unconscious at the time. 'This is more fortunate than those who relive it,' he told the court. 'There is no other than physical harm in this case.'

But the judges said that just because the woman was unconscious did not make it a lesser crime.

Beel said a 51/2 year sentence would have a sufficient deterrent effect. The case was different from other rapes in which women were made unconscious, say, through drugs added to their drinks, he said. In this instance, the victim caused her own unconsciousness by drinking too much, he said.

The court heard that when the victim's friends found her in the cabin with Gurung, they were unable to wake her even by shaking and slapping her.

She only found out the next day when she felt pain in her private parts and asked her friends.

The judges said that other than acting as a deterrent, the sentence should also 'show society that violating women like this is not tolerated'.

Gurung did not use a condom but Beel said since the victim did not get pregnant or contract any disease from the attack, the rape was not made worse.

The judges disagreed, saying the victim was exposed to risk and suffered anxiety while waiting for HIV test results.

Beel further argued that Gurung had acted on the spur of the moment with no advance planning.

The judges said although the act was opportunistic, Gurung had arranged for a man to guard the door when he formed the intention to rape her. They concluded that 61/2 years in jail was not excessive.

The court earlier heard that the victim joined the boat trip from Central to a Sai Kung beach with three women friends at the invitation of a disc jockey working for the club.

The victim became 'wasted' after drinking two cans of beer, a glass of wine and a couple of glasses of vodka.

Her friends put her on a bed in a cabin and left her alone. When they returned, a man was guarding the room and said his friend was using it. They pushed into the room and saw Gurung having sex with the unconscious victim.