Facebook cited in rape trial

AN Emerald miner is in custody charged with raping three girls under the age of 16, two of whom he met on internet social networking site Facebook.

The man in his early 20s, who cannot be named for legal reasons, appeared in the Rockhampton Magistrates Court yesterday where Magistrate Annette Hennessy refused bail, stating he posed an unacceptable risk to the community.

He faces 15 charges including three of rape, three of carnal knowledge of a child under 16 and one each of torture and possession of child pornography. All alleged offences occurred between April and September this year.

The man was arrested over the weekend after he returned from Emerald. He did not enter a plea to the charges yesterday.

Police Prosecutor Barbara Barton said police were concerned for the safety of the four complainants, which include a 21-year-old woman, and worried he might interfere with witnesses if released.

She said the man had allegedly contacted a 15-year-old girl on Facebook and taken her out for dinner.

He then allegedly drove her to the Mt Archer area, stopped the car and began kissing her.

The court heard she told him she did not want to have sex but he raped her and told her afterwards that “she wanted it”.

Afterwards she remained in contact with him.

On June 10 while the man's parents were away from their Norman Gardens home he had brought the girl over and allegedly locked her in a bedroom for one-and-a-half hours during which time he tried to suffocate her with a pillow.

On July 29 after he had allegedly assaulted the girl and she left him, he called her and said he would kill himself.

The second alleged victim was 15 years old and also contacted through Facebook and told police she had sex with the man because she was scared of him and he had threatened her.

Ms Barton said another complainant aged 14 met the man through friends and went to his home where he took her to a bedroom and they had sex despite her refusal.

He had also allegedly sent threatening text messages to a 21-year-old woman who he had sex with.

Police searched the man's address where, the court heard, they seized a mobile phone containing sexually explicit photos of two of the teenage girls he allegedly sexually offended against as well as other unidentified girls.

Police also found a handgun.

Defence lawyer Steve Deaves said his client had voluntarily returned from Emerald where he worked on a four-days-on, four-off basis.

He was the son of a well-respected local professional. 

But Magistrate Hennessy ordered the man to remain in custody until January.

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