A Rockhampton man who was jailed for raping a 16-year-old girl has lost a bid to appeal his conviction.
A Rockhampton man who was jailed for raping a 16-year-old girl has lost a bid to appeal his conviction.

Rapist violated teen he employed to clean house

A Rockhampton man convicted of raping a 16-year-old schoolgirl he had paid to clean his house will remain behind bars after he lost a bid to have his conviction overturned.

Lee James Sunderland was found guilty of digitally raping the teenage girl in November 2017.

During a trial in the Rockhampton District Court, the teenager gave evidence that she was in the kitchen when Sunderland, who was then 57, started asking about her sex life and asked her for a massage saying “You’re good at things … What else can I pay you for?”

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The girl said she was “frozen” with fear when she tried to leave and Sunderland locked the front door, leading her to the bedroom where he gave her some baby oil.

He began massaging the teen, then digitally raped her before apologising and telling her: “I didn’t mean to make you feel uncomfortable … Are you okay?”

The girl left the house and later told police that Sunderland had paid her $150, almost three times her normal wage.

Sunderland denied all of the victim’s accounts but admitted to police that he might have brushed up against her accidentally and that she “might see it that way”.

He said his intention was to give her a “relaxing massage” and “no more than that”.

In June last year, a jury found Sunderland guilty of one count of rape, but acquitted him of one count of indecent assault.

Sunderland appealed his conviction in the Queensland Court of Appeal arguing he should have been found not guilty on both counts.

In reasons published online on Friday morning, it was revealed Sunderland’s appeal was dismissed.

Three justices ruled the jury had got it right.

*For 24-hour sexual violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636.

Originally published as Rapist violated teen he employed to clean house


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