Rapist waited for his victim to fall asleep. Now he’s sorry
Parkside rapist Michael Paul Benfell has apologised in court for sneaking into a woman's home and hiding until she fell asleep before raping her, saying he did not see the "severity, pain and destruction" he had caused until she delivered a victim impact statement.
The District Court heard Benfell, a parolee, had been "on a bender" when he skipped a meeting with his parole officer the day before the April 10, 2018 offence.
Instead he went to the beach and a pub before entering the woman's home, hiding in a vacant bedroom where he removed his shoes and waited until she fell asleep before the attack.
A jury took just one hour to find Benfell guilty of two counts of rape and a charge of aggravated serious criminal trespass in September last year.
Benfell read an apology to the court on Wednesday, saying it was not until he heard victim impact statements that he realised what he had done.
"I could not see the truth in the severity, pain and the destruction in what I had done before this," he said.
The rape survivor, who cannot be named, had eloquently delivered her victim impact statement to the court, describing waking up to "every woman's worst nightmare" in her own bedroom.
She recounted feeling "violated and betrayed" by her "remorseless" attacker, but "not weakened" and begged Benfell never hurt another woman.
"I don't hate you, I pity you and I am willing to give you my forgiveness," she said.
In response, Benfell apologised for the "pain and hardship" he had caused.
"There is no amount of apologising that I can do to fix the damage that I have done," he said.
He said he had been in denial about the crime, not knowing about the attack until his arrest three days later.
"I'm not even sure how it happened. All I know is that I never thought of doing such a thing.
"I did not intend to rape anyone. I didn't even know that I had, which is just as disturbing to me as it would be to everyone else."
Breaking down, he said he had convinced himself that he was innocent.
"I now know that is selfish and denial is turning into remorse," he said.
"I don't deserve your forgiveness, I don't even deserve your pity."
Jemma Litster, prosecuting, said Benfell was on parole, had prior serious trespass offences and must be sentenced as a serious repeat offender and serve four-fifths of any head sentence imposed in jail.
She said Benfell's apology was "somewhat self-serving" and must be tempered by its timing.
Ms Litster said Benfell's crime was "more serious" because he had time for "reflection and contemplation" while he hid inside the house, waiting for his victim to fall asleep.
Judge Paul Slattery said Benfell's apology meant his evidence under oath at trial - that he had previously met his victim and she given him her phone number - was "concocted out of nowhere".
Benfell's lawyer, Adam Richards, said his client admitted that evidence was false.
He said Benfell had broken up with a girlfriend and turned to drugs, "running amok" in the years leading up the attack.
Outside court, he said it was appropriate for his client to apologise, which he described as genuine and heartfelt.
"He wasn't asking for an excuse, he wasn't asking to be forgiven. He was asking to convey his apologies.
"It involves admitting that he lied at the trial, I don't think it will get him a more lenient sentence, I think it will get quite the opposite."
Judge Slattery will sentence Benfell next month.
*For 24-hour sexual violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636.
Originally published as This rapist waited for his victim to fall asleep. Now he's sorry