The lawyer for a man charged with sexually assaulting four women he met on dating apps in Sydney has told a jury they “probably know people that have regretted doing something with someone sexually”.
David Gabrieli has pleaded not guilty in the NSW District Court to 22 charges including 13 counts of indecent assault, five counts of sexual intercourse without consent, two counts of aggravated sexual intercourse without consent and two counts of detaining for advantage.
The alleged offending relates to four women the 39-year-old met via the dating applications RSVP and Bumble between August 2017 and January 2018.
The jury has been told he was kicked off Bumble when his third alleged victim reported him, and his fourth alleged victim was a woman from the app whose phone number he had saved.
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‘SEX WITH REGRET IS NOT RAPE’
Mr Gabrieli, who allegedly used photos of Albanian professional soccer player Lorik Cana, has admitted to creating fake dating profiles and pretending to be a doctor from Switzerland or Sweden.
He has worn a suit throughout his three-week trial, has been assisted by a French interpreter and has a shaved head and tanned skin.
In his closing address on Monday, defence barrister Mark Brady reminded the jury his client had given evidence the fake information was “to impress and embellish his Bumble profile”.
“He admitted he lied about being a doctor, he admitted he continued to lie after and in the company of each of these ladies, and he lied on the Bumble profile but that doesn’t make him guilty,” Mr Brady said.
He said Mr Gabrieli sat in the dock “cloaked in a presumption of innocence”, citing the “Cone of Silence” from the comedy TV series Get Smart.
“If you could just imagine a tube as strong as steel but translucent … that tube never gets breached, it never gets broken unless the Crown proves their case on each of the 22 counts in the indictment beyond reasonable doubt,” Mr Brady said.
“He is entitled to the same dignity and respect as all of us.”
He said the jury should consider the four women went to Mr Gabrieli’s apartment in Maroubra, in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, “voluntarily” and on the first date.
“I want you to consider that sex with regret is not rape,” the defence barrister said.
“You probably know people that have regretted doing something with someone sexually.
“If they didn’t want sex, they could’ve directly objected to having sex, (and) removed themselves from the situation.”
‘HE FELT ENCOURAGED TO CONTINUE’
Mr Brady said on Mr Gabrieli’s account, the first of the four female complainants – who had been invited to coffee – “did not reject” when he took hold of her hands while they were seated on the sofa inside his apartment.
“He also said that if she would’ve rejected his hands, ‘I would’ve stopped’,” the lawyer recalled.
Mr Gabrieli claims they leaned forward into each other and kissed with “full mouth kisses”.
“It was at this time Mr Gabrieli said he was encouraged to go further,” Mr Brady said.
“The kissing continued. Mr Gabrieli, in evidence, says she was stroking his chest. Again, he felt encouraged to continue.
“He saw that as a sign of encouragement and with his left hand he touched her.”
The 39-year-old claims the woman was “breathing heavily”.
“At that point, he truly believed, he truly believed that she wanted to have sex,” Mr Brady said.
“The next thing that he said was ‘let’s have sex’. She told him she had her period.”
Mr Brady said his client “invited her to have oral sex” and “honestly and reasonably believed she was consenting” as he claims the complainant was “smiling and nodding and said OK”.
The defence barrister said the woman came forward to police one year later after reading about the case of one of the other women in the media.
“Regret is not rape,” Mr Brady said.
“(She) in her mind was thinking maybe I don’t want to be doing this or I shouldn’t keep going with him.
“It would be my suggestion to you, ladies and gentlemen, that Mr Gabrieli would be a mind-reader if he knew that.”
The barrister went through all 22 counts and explained which acts Mr Gabrieli believes he had consent for and which he rejects ever occurred.
He told the jury they were entitled to think Mr Gabrieli’s a liar, disrespectful and not polite to women.
“You must look at each charge, each count, and consider them separately,” Mr Brady said.
MAN ALLEGEDLY HAS ‘MODUS OPERANDI’
The Crown alleges Mr Gabrieli has a particular tendency or “modus operandi” to engage in abrupt sexual activity on the first occasion he meets with these women, isolate them while seated on the couch and “without any inquiry or warning” start kissing them.
He then allegedly touches their breasts, puts their hand on his erect penis and “persists” with his sexual advances despite the women allegedly telling him “no”.
“You would utterly reject the evidence you heard from the accused that they were willing participants in the sexual events and in that all four cases the events unexpectedly turned sour,” crown prosecutor Sally Traynor told the jury in her closing address on Friday.
She alleges Mr Gabrieli created a “ruse” to lure the women to his apartment in Maroubra, in the eastern suburbs, including having a headache, meeting at a coffee shop that was closing, forgetting an item at his home, and pretending to be “on call” for work at a nearby hospital.
“Something you would realise is a lie,” Ms Traynor said.
“His plans never seem to eventuate.”
On Monday, Ms Traynor said the jury may think Mr Gabrieli’s account is “utterly implausible, and it offends your common sense”.
“It is simply improbable that all of the complainants would be saying the same thing unless it was true,” she said.
Judge Nicole Noman SC is presiding over the trial.
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