Robert Bennett following his arrest in Grafton.
Robert Bennett following his arrest in Grafton.

Justice for woman kidnapped, raped by truckie in two-day ordeal

A DEPRAVED truck driver who broke into a stranger's home, kidnapped and raped her repeatedly over more than 18 hours told police he had planned to "take a woman" that evening.

Robert Andrew Bennett, 52, was today jailed for 14 years by the Brisbane District Court after pleading guilty to three counts of rape, one of sexual assault, kidnapping and burglary.

The attack on a random 22-year-old woman two years ago was so chilling it today led Judge David Reid to tell Bennett he had "grave, grave doubts you will ever be a person that will be safe to be released into the community".

During his sentencing hearing this morning, the court heard Bennett, a truck driver from NSW, arrived in Brisbane in August 2017 with a plan to "take a woman".

He tried first to kidnap a lady working at a Chinese restaurant in the Darra area but lost his nerve, concerned there might have been knives in the kitchen, the court heard.

As Bennett left the restaurant he chanced upon his victim, seeing an innocent 22-year-old, who cannot be named , through the window of her home.

He knocked on the door and pushed his way into her house at about 7pm, before beginning what would be a horrific 18-hour ordeal for the woman.

Crown prosecutor David Nardone said the woman had tried to run from Bennett before he grabbed her and pinned her down on her own bed, slapped her in the face and raped her.

The court heard the brave woman had tried to call her partner during the attack and some of the initial assault was recorded on the message bank of his phone, later used as evidence against Bennett.

The then 50-year-old took the woman from her home and forced her into his truck, telling her she had to go with him for "insurance purposes".

Across two days, he drove her on a path of terror through the suburbs of Darra and Rocklea, stopping in locations to sexually assault and rape the victim, the court was told.

Mr Nardone said during the horrific ordeal, Bennett tied the woman up with rope, threatened her with a knife before forcing her to "cuddle" in the cab of the truck and telling her "about his life".

Over the two-day period he also forced the woman to shower with him at a service station truck stop before raping her several times without a condom and orally.

The court heard Bennett forced the 22-year-old victim to text her friends and tell them she just "needed to get away".

At the same time, he was telling her she would "end up in a ditch", the court heard.

Mr Nardone also told the court Bennett consistently threatened the woman during the attacks, telling her he would sell her as a sex slave or sell her organs.

After the horrific ordeal, Bennett dropped her back to her home but only because his employer had asked him to go to another truck-driving job.

The court was told Bennett was later arrested in Grafton and told police he knew why they were there and "wouldn't cause any issues".

In a harrowing victim impact statement, the victim addressed Bennett who sat crying in the dock for most of the hearing.

She told him she would "never be able to understand" why he attacked her.

"I have had to work very damn hard to get back to reality," she said.

"Along the way I have remembered my strength and courage and have found a new courage to survive people like you."

In a move which Judge Reid said showed the "size of her heart", the woman said she accepted an apology offered by Bennett.

Judge Reid addressed her directly following his sentencing, saying she was to be "admired for her courage" and ability to continue after such a tragic event.

The court heard Bennett was not mentally ill, according to a psychologist, but regularly blamed others for issues in his own life.

Judge Reid said it was "mind boggling" someone with no criminal history could commit such a heinous crime.

"He has almost a prehistoric attitude to women," he said. "It's breathtaking."

During sentencing, Judge Reid said the father-of-seven showed a "gross disrespect" for others and was unlikely to be a suitable person to be released back into the community after serving his sentence.

Bennett was sentenced to a head sentence of 14 years behind bars and will be eligible for parole shortly after 11 years have been served.

He has been on remand since 2017.

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