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Home Australia Gay Surry Hills man Matthew Sawyer jailed over rape of neighbour

Gay Surry Hills man Matthew Sawyer jailed over rape of neighbour

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Matthew Sawyer has been sentenced to 18 months in jail for raping his neighbour on New Year's Eve in 2017

Matthew Sawyer, 39, has been sentenced to 18 months in jail for raping his neighbour on New Year’s Eve in 2017

A gay man who raped his neighbour as she slept in her bed after a drug-fuelled New Years Eve party will spend at least 18 months in jail.

Matthew Sawyer, 39, and his boyfriend, now husband, Max Petro brought a number of bags of cocaine with them into the Surry Hills apartment on December 31, 2017.

After watching the midnight fireworks those in attendance partied well into the early hours of the morning.

But after a long night of alcohol and illicit substances things began to wind down at 6am, with the host – Sawyer’s victim – needing to be undressed and helped into bed by her boyfriend.

With the sun well and truly up, the woman’s boyfriend decided to then take their dog for a walk, leaving just her and Sawyer in the apartment.

A jury found that with her boyfriend away, Sawyer had snuck into the woman’s room and then into her bed, at which point he began having sex with her.

The victim drunk five bottles of wine and a beer, as well as taking cocaine brought by Sawyer (right) and his boyfriend, now husband, Max Petro (left) into her Surry Hills unit on December 31, 2017

The victim drunk five bottles of wine and a beer, as well as taking cocaine brought by Sawyer (right) and his boyfriend, now husband, Max Petro (left) into her Surry Hills unit on December 31, 2017

After spending the night partying things finally began to wrap up about 6am, with the victim put to bed by her boyfriend after passing out on the couch (Pictured are the New Year's Eve fireworks over Sydney Harbour)

After spending the night partying things finally began to wrap up about 6am, with the victim put to bed by her boyfriend after passing out on the couch (Pictured are the New Year’s Eve fireworks over Sydney Harbour)

NSW District Court heard that when the victim had been put to bed by her boyfriend she was naked, but that he had then pulled the sheet and doona up to tuck her in.

‘The next thing she remembered was waking up to the applicant having penetrated her vagina with his penis, at first thinking it was her partner,’ court documents state.

‘She then heard the applicant say either “I’m about to come” or “I need to come”. She said “What the f**k” and pushed the applicant away.’

Sawyer then jumped out of bed and pulled up his pants, which were around his legs.

The victim then ran from the bed into the ensuite and shut the door behind her, with the door to the bedroom shutting behind her moments later.

She then called her boyfriend, sounding ‘extremely distressed and scared’.

Her furious boyfriend rushed home and after comforting his girlfriend banged on the door of Sawyer.

After initially refusing to leave their unit, Sawyer and Mr Petro eventually walked back into the apartment where just hours earlier they had been partying.

‘(Sawyer) admitted having sex with the victim but said, (according to her partner) in a very sheepish manner and with no eye contact, that it was consensual,’ the court documents read.

In his defence Sawyer claimed he entered the bedroom to find the woman wearing a green floral top and that he lay down next to her on the bed and discussed the party.

He claimed she then started kissing him, began rubbing the outside of his jeans and was ‘grinding’ on him.

Sawyer (right, pictured with his husband Mr Petro) claimed that the victim had initiated sex by kissing him and then pulling him on top of her, but the jury found him guilty of sexual assault

Sawyer (right, pictured with his husband Mr Petro) claimed that the victim had initiated sex by kissing him and then pulling him on top of her, but the jury found him guilty of sexual assault

She then pulled him on top of her and they started having sex, Sawyer claimed.

He agreed the victim had at one point said to him ‘what the f**k’ and pushed him off, but he told the court he was left confused as to why he had to stop and leave.

The victim told the court she had drunk four bottles of champagne, half a bottle of white wine and one beer throughout the night.

Her first memory after passing out on the couch was waking to Sawyer penetrating her.

She was unable to recall ‘getting cosy’ or kissing him on the neck as he had claimed, which Sawyer’s legal team claimed was not a denial.

Another partygoer who walked the dogs with the victim’s boyfriend gave evidence that just before that he had seen the woman be helped into bed.

Sawyer was found guilty by a NSW District Court jury before he appealed the conviction to the NSW Supreme Court, claiming their verdict was 'unreasonable'

Sawyer was found guilty by a NSW District Court jury before he appealed the conviction to the NSW Supreme Court, claiming their verdict was ‘unreasonable’

Sawyer was found guilty by a District Court jury but then appealed the conviction to the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal, claiming their verdict was ‘unreasonable’.

But that appeal was knocked back in the Court of Criminal Appeal on Friday.

Justice Richard Cavanagh found that the jury was within its rights to accept Sawyer’s victim’s evidence as credible.

Sawyer will first be eligible for parole in February, 2021.

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