Tragic end to rape victim’s life
The heartbreaking truth about a young model at the centre of a Sydney trial, in which a serial rapist was convicted of brutally attacking multiple women and a child, can finally be told.
Mustafa Kayirici is serving a 28-year jail sentence for 13 counts of aggravated sexual assault against five women and a string of other offences after carrying out a reign of terror across Sydney over six weeks in 2016. He is also awaiting sentencing for 30 counts of rape, degradation and child abuse against a 13-year-old schoolgirl.
News.com.au can exclusively reveal that one of the attacker's victims, Dasha Volnoukhin, 22, tragically died in the lead up to the court case relating to her attack. A judge this month lifted a suppression order on Ms Volnoukhin's identity, allowing some of the harrowing details about what she endured, to be published for the first time. Not even the jury had been made aware of her fate during the trial in the NSW District Court at Sydney's Downing Centre. The cause of Ms Volnoukhin's death can't be reported for legal reasons.
Ms Volnoukhin was brutally raped by Kayirici in Sydney in 2016, and died on May 13 last year while she was living on the Gold Coast in Queensland.
But she was a long way from home. Ms Volnoukhin, originally from Canada, had first come to Australia in September 2015 in search of adventure and new opportunities. She soon secured a one month contract as a sex worker with Platinum Escorts, which also operates as Elite Escorts, in Sydney. It was a secret Ms Volnoukhin kept from even her closest friends. She told them only about the topless waitressing she was doing on the side, according to those who spoke to news.com.au. But it all unravelled when a predator came knocking.
Ms Volnoukhin was working on her second night for the escort agency when she first encountered Kayirici in Parramatta on May 27, 2016.
Court documents exclusively obtained by news.com.au show that Kayirici posed as a client before he arrived at the Fiori Apartments for an appointment with Ms Volnoukhin, about 10.30pm. At first, everything seemed normal. He buzzed the foyer intercom then knocked on her front door. She let him inside. But within moments Kayirici took a "large butcher style knife" from a kitchen drawer and ordered the victim to strip off and perform sex acts on him. Her immediate reaction upon seeing Kayirici pointing the knife at her was to scream, she told police in February 2017.
"The man then yelled at me 'don't f***ing scream' (followed by) 'take your clothes off'," Ms Volnoukhin said in her official statement.
"I was wearing shorts and a tank top at the time and then started to take my clothes off as I was thinking that if I don't, I will probably die. I was so scared."
According to Ms Volnoukhin's police statement, Kayirici then raped her, during which he asked: "Do you like being raped?" Simultaneously, he held a mobile phone in one hand and pressed record on the camera's video setting. Ms Volnoukhin started to cry. Unrelenting, the attacker used his other hand to keep a firm grip on the knife and continued the "rough" assault.
"The man was pointing the phone at me … then started to demand that I say things … he was saying to me: 'Say you are a slut'," Ms Volnoukhin said.
Ms Volnoukhin said she was "shocked and terrified" as the rapist continued the sexual assault at knifepoint for another "three or four minutes".
"I remember thinking that 'I just don't want to die'," she told police.
The attack soon came to a halt before Kayirici then robbed Ms Volnoukhin of her day's cash earnings and left. She had survived the attack but almost exactly two years later, she was dead.
"Our community lost a friend, sister, partner and amazing young woman," one of Ms Volnoukhin's friends wrote online soon after her death.
"We are all forever changed by this tragic event."
'DASHA TOLD US' ABOUT THE RAPE
Gold Coast resident Katherine Dudley, 23, told news.com.au that Ms Volnoukhin was a close friend who had been living with her and was about to sign onto her lease and move in permanently before she died.
"Dasha told us she had been held to knifepoint, raped and then he took her money all while videoing it to look like it wasn't rape," she said.
"I found out after she died … she wasn't only topless waitressing but escorting.
"I don't think you can ever really know what else people have going on when you learn they haven't told you everything."
Ms Dudley said she was shattered by her friend's death but that she was "doing OK".
"Dash was a beautiful girl and I'm more trying to take a different perspective and just stoked she got to be part of my life for the time that she was," Ms Dudley told news.com.au.
"Dasha was that one friend you had that never forgot your birthday or who would make you feel super special on it even if you didn't want to do anything.
"She was someone you wanted to hate for being so loud and obnoxious but it only ever made you love her more.
"She was caring, thoughtful, and a f***ing good friend.
"I think that regardless of what she chose to do as a job that nobody should ever have to carry through life what (the rapist) placed on her."
A spokesman for Pin-up Promotions, an entertainment agency that provides strippers and topless waiters and waitresses in Brisbane, the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast, paid tribute to Ms Volnoukhin, a former employee in the days following her death. Ms Volnoukhin had worked for the company as a topless waitress, in addition to her work as an escort.
"We lost one of our special girls on Sunday … Dasha Volnoukhin," an Instagram post on the company's page read.
"This is a shock and great loss of a special girl who had the world ahead of her."
DASHA: 'I MAKE MY PERSONALITY BIG'
Ms Volnoukhin was also employed as an MC for Wicked Club Crawl when she died, according to her LinkedIn page. She had studied for a business and corporate communications degree with Canada's Calgary University and had previously worked in hospitality as a hostess and server. She occasionally modelled, recently placing ninth in her category for Maxim's Finest competition. The modelling competition raised awareness for the Movember Foundation, to address "some of the biggest health issues faced by men including mental health and suicide prevention", according to the website.
In an interview with the prominent men's publication early last year, Ms Volnoukhin said she was "known as the pocket rocket among my friends".
"I may be little but I make my personality big!" she said.
Ms Volnoukhin said she was "inspired by successful women who make a career out of themselves, and deny judgmental boundaries set in place by others stopping them from pursuing their dreams". She also touched on her love for animals, saying she would "distribute all the stray and shelter puppies to living homes" if she could.
DASHA'S EMOTIONAL FAREWELL
A funeral was held for Ms Volnoukhin at Southport Lawn Cemetery on May 29 last year.
Guests wore white, pink or yellow - Ms Volnoukhin's favourite colours - to the service.
The ceremony was held after a successful GoFundMe campaign started by Ms Volnoukhin's friends ended with $7932 in cash donations to fund the funeral and burial.
"Dasha had no family in Australia and … we are trying our hardest to give her the send off she deserves," the fundraising page read.
"We have currently privately raised $3000 and our goal is to raise another $10,000 for all funeral costs and a burial.
"Any extra funds will be donated (to charity)."
Dozens of mourners expressed their heartache online over Ms Volnoukhin's death.
"I'm completely heartbroken. Just a month ago we was hopping on a scooter and causing chaos in Bali Still living by your mantra: 'always let go of what's not for your greater good' I love you darling girl," Dee Mansouri wrote.
Allessandia Montana said it broke her heart "to see such a beautiful smile leave this world". "If only you knew how many people cared for you, how many people whose hearts are broken at this loss," she wrote.
Another said: "If only you knew just how much we loved you."