Angels Beach, Ballina.
Angels Beach, Ballina. Graham Broadhead

Ballina beach rapist could be out of jail in two years

A NIMBIN man who randomly raped a woman on Ballina's Angels Beach could be out of jail in less than two years despite his victim being emotionally scarred for life.

Lismore District Court Judge Laura Wells today sentenced drug addict Michael Allan Jeffreys, 35, to a minimum of three years over the sexual assault, but taking into account time served since his arrest he could be out of jail in September 2019.

The court heard that multiple psychiatric reports on Jeffreys had concluded he had "chronic and severe psychiatric illnesses" including drug induced psychosis, adjustment disorder, anti-social personality traits, and cognitive problems.

Jeffreys was caught red-handed when he sexually assaulted the victim on July 3 last year and the case against him was "overwhelming", Judge Wells said.

He had been smoking the drug ice heavily in the four months leading up to the attack and had not slept for three or four days.

The daylight assault played out in sand dunes just 20 metres away from a public pathway on a Sunday morning just after 10am.

Jeffreys had walked past the woman on the beach before approaching her, before jumping on her and pushing her face down into the sand with his body while raping her.

A short time later a witness who came to the beach with his family heard her screams and came running.

Jeffreys ran, and attempted to hail a motorist on the Coast Rd before trying to enlist the help of a nearby resident.

Both men ended up chasing him and performed a citizen's arrest.

Jeffreys later told police that he though the woman "would have liked him".

Judge Wells summarised a psychiatric report which concluded it was possible that the offence occurred as a result of a "delusion" to Jeffreys' multiple psychological and cognitive problems as well as his drug use.

But while these factors contributed to his offending they were not an "entire explanation", and Judge Wells said there was a "degree of planning" and "goal directed behaviour" in Jeffreys' actions.

Jeffreys was "certainly setting out that day to have sex with someone" and "when he saw the complainant he decided it was to be that person".

She noted Jeffreys had gone to an isolated place and observed the victim before approaching her.

"He persisted despite the complainant making it clear by screaming that she did not want to participate."

And when a member of the public came to help, Jeffreys "ran as hard as he could in order to get away".

Judge Wells said the victim had suffered a "complete change in her life both physically and emotionally" since the incident.

"She no longer considers herself safe... she is fearful that someone might violently and randomly attack her".

The incident had set back the woman's planned career in nursing "because she finds it difficult to leave the safety of her room and difficult to concentrate or focus".

Jeffreys was also on parole after spending six months in jail for assaulting his partner and breaching an apprehended violence order when the rape occurred.

However, a jail sentence would "weigh more heavily" on Jeffreys due to his mental conditions, Judge Wells said.

She sentenced Jeffreys to five years prison with a non-parole period of three years.

Taking into account time served since his arrest, Jeffreys will be eligible for parole on September 29, 2019.

A statement from the victim's family read: "Although we are relieved the perpetrator has been sentenced to a prison term and the community will be protected from the danger he poses, there are no winners here".

"Several lives have been significantly damaged and the victim will live with this trauma forever."

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