Bongiorno 'humiliated' victim in sex assault, court told

A MAN convicted of a "humiliating" sexual assault on a woman by the side of a road in northern NSW faces sentencing later this month.

Alessandro Bongiorno, 32, was last year convicted in Grafton District Court of the June 2014 assault, indecent assault and sexual assault on the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

The offences occurred in a lane off the Pacific Hwy near Bom Bom State Forest after Bongiorno picked the victim up from Coffs Harbour Airport and an argument broke out.

At a sentencing hearing in Sydney on Friday, the Crown Prosecutor described the attack on the woman as "humiliating", labelling it as an incident of "some violence throughout".

During the ordeal the victim cried and asked Bongiorno to stop, but she was told to "shut up" by her attacker, Downing Centre District Court was told.

The Crown Prosecutor said Bongiorno had previously been living a "double life", with some members of his family "not necessarily seeing the full picture" of his issues with mental health, drugs and violence.

In his submissions, Bongiorno's barrister, Greg James QC, urged a short non-parole period for his client, arguing that while the offending was serious, it was at the "lower end" of the scale.

Mr James also pointed to the support Bongiorno would receive from friends and family when he was released into the community.

The court was told 26 character references had been tendered on Bongiorno's behalf, with some supporters of the Sydney truck driver present in court for the hearing.

"They will be supporting him to avoid any further offence," Mr James said.

Bongiorno had already spent five months behind bars, including a stint in protective custody following media reports about the case, the court was told.

"What has occurred in the media is a form of extra curial punishment. It is a common feature the court takes into account," Mr James said.

Judge James Bennett adjourned the matter for sentence on March 24.

- SAM MCKEITH



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