By Cam Lucadou-Wells
A Hampton Park serial sex offender has been jailed after raping two young women in a nightclub’s toilet.
Tuncer Salih, now 45, was found guilty by a Victorian County Court jury of two charges of rape at the Clique Lounge Bar in King Street, Melbourne early on Saturday 2 February 2019.
In sentencing on 24 May, Judge Douglas Trapnell said Salih’s “truly appalling crimes” were motivated by his “desire for sexual gratification”.
“You treated both women, not as a persons deserving of respect, but as chattels, things to be used for your sexual gratification in whatever way it suited you.
“They were powerless to resist your assaults on their bodily integrity.”
The two victims, 23 and 24, had taken a cocktail of booze, ecstasy and marijuana before Salih approached them at the Clique bar about 5.17am.
The women – given the pseudonyms Kelly Howard and Sally Lucas – say they took a turn for the worse soon after ingesting a white powder from Salih in a staff-only bathroom, Judge Trapnell said.
Salih claimed it was cocaine, but Ms Lucas who then felt “really off” and “scattered”, believed it was another illicit drug.
In the absence of other evidence, he was sentenced on the basis it was cocaine.
After 6am, the two friends went into a female toilet cubicle and locked the door. Ms Lucas then passed out.
Salih climbed over the cubicle partition, despite Ms Howard yelling and trying to push him out.
Without a condom, he violently raped Ms Howard and then the unconscious Ms Lucas – who according to her friend was “like a dead body”.
Salih’s offending had been “terrifying for these two young women”, Judge Trapnell said.
“The psychological and emotional impact of your crimes has been devastating and caused long-term suffering for them.”
In a victim impact statement, a “formerly happy, outgoing and friendly” Ms Howard said she was since scared to leave the house alone, experienced panic attacks in public, social anxiety and nightmares.
She’d since left a stable job and been unable to return to work.
“She feels objectified, abused and violated,” Judge Trapnell said.
“She wants to move on but does not believe she ever will.”
Ms Lucas had since been medicated for depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress and panic attacks, with ongoing counselling and therapy.
“She has become terrified of how men can manipulate women.
“Ms Lucas found the experience of giving evidence in court extremely stressful and she describes the weeks leading up to attending court as the worst period of her life.”
Salih’s moral culpability was “substantial” due to preying on two young women who “to your knowledge, were vulnerable by reason of being heavily intoxicated by alcohol and drugs.”
In a police interview and subsequently, Salih has denied the offending. He claimed the victims invited him to climb over the cubicle partition and that he kissed Ms Lucas.
Salih’s “appalling” and “extensive” prior history included a 2003 jailing for raping a drug-affected woman he met in a hotel.
“You are not to be repunished for your past offending, but it illuminates your moral culpability for the instant offences and shows your dangerous propensity to commit sexual offences against vulnerable woman whom you encounter in hotels and nightclubs,” Judge Trapnell said.
He had a history of methamphetamine ‘three-week binges’ as well as numerous admissions to Casey Hospital for drug-induced psychoses.
According to clinical evidence, Salih was not suffering significant symptoms of psychosis at the time of the offence.
Judge Trapnell noted Salih’s hopes of rehabilitation were “highly problematic” and unlikely to benefit from a sex offenders’ treatment program.
His previous sexual offender program did not stop him re-offending in “appalling fashion”.
The former Mulgrave school student was on a community corrections order at the time of the 2019 offences.
“In my experience, it is uncommon for a person being sentenced to have as few mitigating circumstances present as do you.”
Salih was jailed for up to 16 years, including a minimum 12-year non-parole period.
The term includes 1187 days in pre-sentence remand.
He will be registered as a sex offender for life.