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Convicted rapist drank bottle of vodka before night walks

CONVICTED RAPIST: Alfred Sitters outside the Bundaberg Courthouse. He is in custody now.
CONVICTED RAPIST: Alfred Sitters outside the Bundaberg Courthouse. He is in custody now. Ross Irby BUN101017COURT1

CONVICTED rapist Alfred Sitters drinks a bottle of vodka daily and walks the streets of Bundaberg late at night, the District Court has heard.

A Bundaberg jury after a two-day trial found Sitters, 33, guilty of raping and sexually assaulting a teenager on a road after midnight as she walked home from a party.

Judge William Everson began hearing sentencing submissions but stopped part-heard as Sitters' defence team did not have professional medical evidence on his intellectual capacity to put before the court.

Defence barrister Doug Winning told the court that Sitters' family say his drinking is problematic and he regularly drinks vodka.

"It was suggested he had a practice of drinking a bottle of vodka during the day and going on long walks at night," Mr Winning said.

And Sitters was only educated to Year 3 at Longreach.

"He is a man who has, on my instructions, significant cognitive impairment," Mr Winning said.

"He is on a disability pension. He is illiterate, can't read or write.

"I had much difficulty in even having the most limited dialogue with him."

However, when Mr Winning said he did not have a medical report to support his cognitive impairment, Judge Everson said any such cognitive impairment would be a significant consideration in sentencing Sitters.

Mr Winning said Sitters was assessed by the Bundaberg psychiatric unit "and found to be mentally competent two, three months prior to his offending behaviour, so there is no suggestion he lacks the mental capacity".

Mr Winning said Sitters' mother informed him that her son was also diagnosed with short long bones syndrome.

Crown prosecutor Clare Kelly sought a head sentence of around eight years with no early parole eligibility.

She said Sitters had been before court previously and pleaded guilty to a stalking charge after he repeatedly visited the home of a Longreach policewoman in 2011.

A conviction was not recorded and Sitters was placed on good behaviour with a $600 recognisance.

Ms Kelly said that in that offence, Sitters told Longreach police an ex-girlfriend had lived there (not the officer) and he'd been told she wanted to get back together with him.

Then while on bail waiting for his defended trial on the Bundaberg sexual offence charges, Ms Kelly said Sitters breached a night curfew by being found by police at 2am walking on a street.

Ms Kelly submitted a victim impact statement from the woman who was aged 18 when raped by Sitters in November 2015.

Judge Everson said the woman, now 20, stated "her mental health had been so severely compromised she had been hospitalised".

"He took advantage of a young girl walking alone at night. He used her for his own sexual gratification against her own wishes," Ms Kelly said.

Judge Everson said he was not prepared to proceed with sentence until he received evidence of Sitters cognitive impairment as it would likely be a major component of sentencing.

"It is a major mitigating factor. There is no evidence before me on how significant it is," he said.

"I don't know if he has organic brain damage, a whole plethora of things here."

Mr Winning said he may have inadvertently misled the court about the hospital report on Sitters being competent to stand trial.

He said Sitters was taken to the mental health service at the request of his family but wasn't assessed, and he had relied on the integrity of advice by family members.

Saying jail can be harsh for people with cognitive impairment and he had many concerns, Judge Everson ordered a presentence full assessment report be done on Sitters, who is in custody.

His sentencing was adjourned.

Topics:  buncourt editors picks rapist



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