Man faces court over alleged rape at pub
A CONVERSATION between two men in the beer garden of a popular Evans Head pub could be crucial to the case of a man accused of raping a woman in a nearby hotel room, a court has heard.
Darren Atkins, 53, a truck driver and father of two appeared before Lismore Local Court this morning via video link from Grafton Correctional Centre, following his arrest on Friday.
Police allege Mr Atkins entered a hotel room at the Hotel Illawong between 11pm and 11.15pm on Thursday night and had sex with a 31-year-old woman without her consent.
Mr Atkins' solicitor Tom Trembath immediately applied for bail this morning, arguing the situation was more complex than the police allegations made out.
"The issue is consent, we say the young woman consented to the sexual advances of my client in the circumstances," he told Magistrate Jeff Linden.
He said Mr Atkins was also "encouraged" to have sex with the woman by another man who worked at the hotel, who had had consensual sex with her earlier in the night.
"We also say (that) person... is not being entirely frank in terms of his involvement in the matter," Mr Trembath said.
"It's clear that afterwards he comes back into the beer garden and has a conversation with my client."
"Then my client goes to her room and a sexual interaction take place."
"We say that (he) encourages my client to go into the room... and have sex with her."
"In effect, he said: 'She's on for it'."
But police prosecutor Brett Gradisnik said even if there was more to the story, "the alleged victim wasn't in any state to consent in any case."
"We say it's a strong prosecution case with very serious allegations."
"The alleged victim has (also) expressed her concerns... if bail is granted."
The court heard Mr Atkins had been working as a truck driver on the Pacific Highway upgrade and his employer had rented a cottage in Evans Head where truck drivers are accommodated when in the area.
"Bearing in mind what's happened he would no longer be employed and (if granted bail) would be remote from the victim.... and remote from Evans Head," Mr Trembath said in applying for bail.
"In any event the issue is consent (and) these matters will take months to resolve... if he is refused bail he'll be in custody for that entire period."
Magistrate Linden said the prosecution case was "very strong" but agreed to grant bail.
"While there are concerns I think they can be mitigated," he said.
Atkins was granted strict conditional bail to reside in his Boambee East home and to report to Coffs Harbour Police Station three times a week.
His conditions included not going near Evans Head and depositing a $1000 cash bond.
The matter was adjourned to Ballina Local Court on January 10, with a brief of evidence also due on that date.