A Canberra man who traded ice for sex with a teenage girl in the foster system and violently raped another woman is facing years in jail, after he was convicted in two separate trials.
- Robert Glen Sirl faced two trials in the ACT Supreme Court and was found guilty of both crimes
- Police found Sirl having sex with a teenage girl when they went to talk to him about the rape
- He maintains the sex with the woman was consensual and that he thought the girl was over 16
Details about the trials can now be revealed after court suppressions were lifted on Friday.
WARNING: This story contains graphic content that may upset some readers.
Robert Glen Sirl, 48, was caught having sex with the 15-year-old girl when police went to talk to him about the rape. He was subsequently arrested.
Police surprised Sirl when they knocked on the door of his room in the house where he lived.
“What are you doing in there?” police asked.
“Getting busy with a woman,” Sirl replied.
He maintained throughout the ACT Supreme Court trial that he thought she was older than 16, and said it was the only time the pair had sex.
But the girl said it had happened many times.
She also told her foster mother the pair had a deal. “Our agreement was I’d have sex with him and he would give me ice,” she said.
Prosecutor Trent Hickey highlighted comments from her foster mother when addressing the jury about how the girl would disappear at times and return looking like she had lost weight.
“She told us there were also periods of time where … she had come home with scab-looking things on her face,” he said.
When police asked the girl whether Sirl had asked her about her own life, she replied: “Not really, but he knew how old I was and that I was in foster care.”
Hanging out with teenage girls ‘not abnormal’ for Sirl
Sirl’s account of the day he was arrested was that the girl was playing music on her phone in his room and she initiated the encounter.
“All of a sudden she just turned around and grabbed me and started kissing me,” he told police.
But the prosecution took aim at Sirl, telling the jury that was not believable.
“It will be a matter for you to decide, but you may think that it is utterly implausible that a petite 15-year-old girl who, on his version, he had only met once or twice before, would all of a sudden turn around and grab him and start kissing him,” Mr Hickey said.
Sirl’s lawyer Katrina Musgrove said his candid responses to police showed he had thought the girl was older.
“You might think that if Mr Sirl believed [she] was under 16 he would not spontaneously say that to the police,” she said.
“I would suggest that you might find that that is because that is what he believed.”
At one point police asked Sirl why he did not see a bunch of 17 and 18-year-old girls hanging around with him and his friend as abnormal.
“Um, well, um, it’s not really that abnormal in my world, no,” he replied.
Ms Musgrove said the jury should set aside any prejudices and consider the world in which Sirl lived when assessing what he may have believed about the girl’s age.
“He is not living in a utopia domestic setting out in the suburbs,” she said.
She pointed to his unemployment, his unstable housing, and lack of any evidence of a domestic relationship or any parental roles in which he had the care of a teenage girl.
She said that Sirl’s life experience meant he had a different perception about the age of a teenage girl to the average person, and that his judgement about her age was based on reasonable grounds.
The jury disagreed and found Sirl guilty of ‘maintaining a sexual relationship with a young people’ within a couple of hours.
Sirl also found guilty of vicious rape of woman
That jury was the second Sirl had faced within weeks.
He was also found guilty of raping and causing grievous bodily harm to a woman who was so badly hurt she nearly bled to death.
The court heard the woman’s injuries were caused by a sharp object Sirl used in the assault.
The woman initially told authorities she had been assaulted during a Tinder date, and it was weeks before the encounter between police and Sirl when the second crime came to light.
But the prosecution urged the jury not to judge the victim for the delay in telling the truth.
“Does it just reflect a woman who was embarrassed and ashamed that she got into trouble with someone who her children had warned her about?” Mr Hickey asked.
In a police interview played to the jury, the woman told an officer that a top gynaecologist had examined her injuries, and told her they had never seen such damage.
Mr Hickey pointed to evidence from a doctor who said the woman had five cuts in her cervix, which had caused significant pain, and that she had lost one and a half litres of blood by the time she got to hospital many hours after the incident.
He said the woman had admitted she had gone to Sirl’s home to buy drugs, and he had given her a coffee with a dash of the drug ice.
The woman said he suddenly said he was missing $68,000 in cash and she would have to help him find it.
The court heard the search had ended in the bedroom where the woman said she was pushed on the bed and raped.
The woman then fled to a nearby toilet block while bleeding profusely.
In her account, the woman said Sirl eventually came to help her after many text messages.
She said he threw a bath mat at her and told her not to ring again because he had visitors.
Sirl told police the sex was consensual, that the pair had used sex toys and he had worn glow in the dark contacts on his eyes that he bought from a sex shop.
‘He didn’t know how she was hurt’
In summing up the case the case Sirl’s lawyer told the jury he had seemed genuinely taken aback by the allegations.
“He could not believe it,” Ms Musgrove said.
“He told police he did not know how she was hurt. He told police there was no blood until at the toilets.”
She said Sirl had also told police that was not the last encounter between the two.
“They had sex again twice, he told police, if not three or four times after the attack,” Ms Musgrove said.
Ms Musgrove also called the woman’s account into question by reminding the jury that she had left vital matters out of her statements, including that she had had a casual sexual relationship with Sirl beforehand, and that she had gone to him for drugs.
“He was selling her cannabis and ice, and injecting her with ice. At her request,” she said.
After the jury delivered its verdict of guilty Sirl nodded and pursed his lips.
He will be sentenced later this year.