A DEPRAVED man who kidnapped, mutilated, tortured and repeatedly raped a woman in her home and a motel room is no longer a “monster”, his lawyer claims.
Darin Wheeldon, 42, appeared in the County Court of Victoria on Wednesday after earlier pleading guilty to four counts of rape and one charge each of false imprisonment, intentionally causing injury and theft, over the July 2011 incident.
The court was told Wheeldon, originally from Wollongong, pierced the soup kitchen volunteer’s nipples while he restrained her, physically assaulted her, photographed her naked and threatened to kill her family at her home in Dandenong, Victoria.
He also taunted the “deeply religious” 30-year-old woman, by asking her, “where is your God now?”
The court heard that Wheeldon whipped and raped the mother before abducting her, bundling her in a car and setting off for rural NSW.
After the horrific three-day ordeal, he left her tied up in a wardrobe in a motel room at the township of Young, NSW, but was arrested after he crashed on a highway about 200km away. Meanwhile, the woman managed to loosen the duct tape, escape and call for help from motel staff.
The woman was paralysed with fear and repeatedly forced to perform sex acts throughout the ordeal, the court previously heard.
“I felt defiled, violated and helpless,” she said in her victim impact statement during Wheeldon’s earlier pre-sentence hearing.
She now suffers post-traumatic stress, anxiety attacks, nightmares, paranoia, adrenal fatigue and other difficulties.
He was extradited to Victoria in April 2016 having served only part of that sentence and now stands to have more time added for the crimes he committed in Victoria.
Religion had brought Wheeldon and his victim together. She was volunteering at a Melbourne soup kitchen run by a religious charity and had offered him a room in her home to help him during a difficult time, the ABC reported.
Barrister Aaron Shwartz argued Wheeldon’s borderline personality disorder should be taken into account when sentencing and added the man was in a state of “disrepair” during the attack.
“My client was in a state of total disorder, taking drugs in the course of these events happening,” Mr Schwartz said.
He said Wheeldon had believed he was in a “growing relationship” with the woman and felt rejected when his affections weren’t reciprocated.
“He is attempting to find a new life. He is not the person he was seven years ago,” Mr Shwartz argued, adding Wheeldon was no longer the “monster” previously described to the court.
But Judge Lisa Hannan questioned whether Wheeldon’s feelings of rejection were relevant.
“It’s nothing more basic than he thought she was property and he could deal with her as he wanted. Why shouldn’t I take that view?” she asked.
Mr Schwartz argued the impact of Wheeldon’s psychological condition “should not be swept under the carpet”, adding his client had worked to “realign himself”.
“He’s found God … religion has given him a sense of pride … He’s amenable to a religious form of solace,” he said.
But prosecutor Brett Sonnet said the crimes were “a form of torture” upon a woman who was “deeply religious, with a charitable disposition”.
He said the experience had a “most profound” effect on the woman, who has since moved house, and has been forced to make other changes in her life. Mr Sonnet said Wheeldon was a man who has shown only limited remorse, and that his rehabilitation prospects should be approached “in a guarded manner”.
Wheeldon is due to be sentenced on August 9.