Attorney-General Christian Porter has won his bid to quash a $40,000 payout to a sexual assault victim after arguing she was not entitled to compensation because she was smoking amphetamines with her attacker when the offences occurred.
The Court of Appeal this morning ruled that District Court Judge Anette Schoombee had been wrong to overturn an earlier compensation assessor's decision to refuse the woman a payout because she had been engaged in criminal conduct when the rape occurred.
The woman was attacked by a man visiting her home on November 23, 2007, with the man pleading guilty to one count of sexual penetration without consent and one charge of indecent assault.
It is not in dispute that the woman had smoked amphetamines with the offender before the assault.
During the incident, the man threatened he would "terrorise" her. She again smoked amphetamines with the man after the assault.
Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal chief assessor Helen Porter refused the woman's application for compensation in August 2009, finding that an award was prohibited under the relevant legislation because she had been injured when she was committing a separate offence.
The legislation states that an assessor must not make a compensation award if they are satisfied "that a person was injured as a consequence of the commission of the offence; and that the injury was suffered when the person was committing a separate offence".
But Judge Schoombee overturned the assessor's ruling in 2010 and awarded the rape victim $40,000.
The Attorney General had challenged the judge's ruling and said it contradicted a previous District Court decision.
Today, the Appeal Court said Judge Schoombee had been wrong in her interpretation of the legislation regarding the notion of a "causal link" between the criminal activity engaged in by the woman and the rape.
Judge Schoombee had ruled at the time that there was no causal link between the woman smoking drugs with the man and the sexual assault.
The appeal judges quashed the District Court judge's decision, saying Judge Schoombee had a mistaken view of the operation and effect of the relevant legislation.
CHRISTIANA JONES, The West Australian
February 9, 2012
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