‘Facebook rapist’ jailed for sick attacks
A NSW man has been jailed for at least 30 years after befriending teenage girls and young women on Facebook and other social media sites and then sexually assaulting them.
Andrew James Benn, 29, raped or indecently assaulted 14 teenagers and young women he met on social media, including Facebook, Tinder and Snapchat, between September 2012 and January 2017.
Newcastle District Court judge Roy Ellis on Thursday jailed Benn - who'd pleaded guilty to 33 charges including 21 counts of sexual intercourse without consent - for a total of 40 years with a non-parole period of 30 years.
Judge Ellis said the way a "depraved" Benn had treated his victims was "nothing short of despicable". The judge described his enormous criminality as "evil".
Benn would trawl through personal Facebook pages of random young women in the NSW Hunter Region searching for victims and sending them friend requests. After befriending them, Benn would gain their confidence, and then arrange to meet in person before attacking them.
In one case, Benn, from Rothbury in the Hunter Valley, sent a Facebook friend request to a 17-year-old girl in November 2013 and spent weeks chatting to her online until he convinced the teenager to meet him.
The year 11 student told Benn she'd never been on a date before. She thought he was going to drive her into Newcastle but, instead, he took her to a boat ramp at Morpeth in Maitland and raped her in the back seat of the car.
Benn then drove the terrified girl to the Morpeth cemetery where he raped her again.
In an emotional victim impact statement read to the court, the woman revealed she'd been ashamed of what Benn had done to her.
At the time she felt she couldn't tell anyone about being raped - including her mother.
"I was still in shock. I was worried about how my mother would react," the woman told the court on Thursday.
She suffered panic attacks, nightmares and flashbacks after the attack and subsequently failed year 11. She didn't return to school.
Another victim told the court she hated herself every day because she froze when Benn attacked her and didn't fight back.
Benn was arrested in January 2017 after two teenage girls and three women aged between 16 and 20 contacted police to report he'd sexually assaulted them. A further nine victims came forward following publicity about his arrest.