Afghan refugee who said raping woman was part of 'cultural differences' is jailed for 14 years
An Afghan man who fled from the Taliban to begin a new life in Australia will spend the next 14 years behind bars after a judge rejected his claim that cultural differences had led to him raping a woman.
Esmatullah Sharifi, 30, was told by Judge Mark Dean in Melbourne that his background as a traumatised Muslim refugee was no excuse for the rape of a drunken and vulnerable teenager.
The judge noted that a psychologist had told the Victoria County Court in Melbourne that Sharifi, who arrived in Australia in 2001, had an 'unclear concept of what constitutes consent in sexual relationships'.
Rejecting that argument, the judge said Sharifi's background and flight from the Taliban was not an excuse for violence, telling the Afghan: 'You well knew the victim was not consenting to the act of sexual penetration you performed.'
It was not the first time that Sharifi had appeared in court on a rape charge - in 2009 he was jailed for a minimum of seven years for the abduction and sexual assault of a woman on Christmas Eve, 2008 - five days after he had raped the teenager.
Already serving seven years imprisonment for that offence, he was now charged with raping the 18-year-old who he had found alone, intoxicated and sitting on the pavement near a nightclub after she had had a disagreement with her friends.
Sharifi, the judge said, had driven from his home that night in December looking for a victim.
He sat down beside the teenager, began talking to her and offered to drive her to a hotel where her friends had moved on to.
But when he drove off in a different direction, the young woman became concerned and texted her friends - until Sharifi took her phone and drove to a dark street.
The teenager cried and asked if he planned to kill her. He replied by putting his hand around her neck and forcing her to remove her clothes before raping her.
'Your offending is of the utmost seriousness,' said Judge Dean.
'You preyed upon a young vulnerable stranger who was alone and intoxicated at night. Your brutal conduct must be denounced by this court.'
Sharifi, who pleaded guilty to rape, will serve a sentence that includes his jailing for the second sexual attack. It was DNA from that second offence that led to him being charged with the earlier rape of the teenager.
With a maximum sentence of 14 years set, he will have to serve a minimum of 11 years and will be eligible for parole in seven years and eight months.
He is likely to be deported back to Afghanistan when he has served his sentence.
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