Convicted rapist argues he suffered miscarriage of justice

Sexual assault victims outside court after convicted rapist's sentence in April.
Sexual assault victims outside court after convicted rapist's sentence in April. Rae Wilson

A CONVICTED serial rapist who was labelled during sentencing as "cunning, devious and dishonest" has argued he suffered a miscarriage of justice.

John Collins, 74, was convicted after trial of sexually assaulting seven women, raping six of them, on his yacht, the Pan Pacific, off the Queensland coast between the Whitsundays and the Gold Coast from 1986 to 2000.

He would place newspaper advertisements asking for the women to fill a nanny position, looking after his young son.

Collins would then lure them into his cabin where he raped them at various ports including the Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, Bundaberg and on a deserted island off Hamilton Island.

The offences came to light when one woman spoke to a newspaper about her experience and others came forward with similar tales.

Collins was ordered to serve 80% of a 20-year jail term.

When his legal team withdrew, Collins was forced to conduct most of the trial on his own.

Barrister Soraya Ryan, acting for Collins, argued in the Court of Appeal on Friday that the trial judge erred in not adjourning the trial to let Collins seek further legal representation.

She also argued he suffered a critical forensic disadvantage for not having that legal assistance.

The lawyer argued prejudicial evidence was allowed before the jury and the women were not properly questioned about the newspaper article that led to them coming forward.

Barrister Michael Byrne, acting for the Crown, said the judge did not err in allowing the trial to proceed.

"There is some disadvantage in not being legally represented but that is not, we submit, the end point," he said.

"The end point is to look at what went on. Was it within the boundaries of a fair trial?

"And if it is there is no miscarriage of justice."

The Court of Appeal reserved its judgment.

Topics:  court of appeal rape sexual assault

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