SENTENCED: Rodrigo Figueiredo Braga, 38, was convicted of sexually assaulting a 21-year-old woman at O'Malley's Irish Bar, Mooloolaba.
SENTENCED: Rodrigo Figueiredo Braga, 38, was convicted of sexually assaulting a 21-year-old woman at O'Malley's Irish Bar, Mooloolaba. Contributed

Sex assault victim taken against her will

THE 21-year-old victim of a serious sexual assault thought she was in a safe, open area of a Coast pub when her ordeal began.

Rodrigo Figueiredo Braga, 38, was nursing a broken heart when he went to O'Malley's Irish Bar on student night on November 14 last year, and met the young woman, Maroochydore Magistrates Court heard yesterday.

The Brazilian national, who has lived in Australia for the past nine years, was heavily drunk when he grabbed her first by the elbow, then around the waist and pulled her into him.

He picked her up, carried her against her will into the ladies' toilets and tried to push her into a cubicle while trying to kiss her mouth and neck as she struggled against him.

"He said the words 'I want to f*** you'," police prosecutor Allison Johnstone said.

The assault ended only when two women came into the toilets.

Senior Constable Johnstone said when police spoke to Braga at the time he appeared to have no awareness there was a problem with what he had done.

"He stated he 'thought she wanted it by the look in her eyes' and that 'this is what happens in pubs and clubs'," Snr Const Johnstone said.

Yesterday Braga pleaded guilty to sexual assault and his lawyer, Donna Hanslow-Hastie, said he had misinterpreted the situation, possibly because of some cultural differences.

"When the victim placed her hand on his chest to push him away, that didn't register in my client's mind; he thought it was a return sign of affection," she said.

"But he accepts that he did not act in a way that he would normally have done and that it was inappropriate and unacceptable, and he certainly doesn't raise that misunderstanding as a defence."

Ms Hanslow-Hastie said Braga was sorry to have distressed the woman, that he had no criminal history, and had since given up alcohol completely after the incident.

"Since finding out how the victim was impacted, I'm told he's been living with guilt and remorse of that," she said.

"This is not the type of behaviour the community can expect going forward."

The court heard Braga's victim suffered stress and anxiety in the wake of the assault and had to take time off work and seek counselling.

Magistrate Annette Hennessy said a term of imprisonment was the only appropriate penalty given the serious circumstances of the incident.

"It seems to me that the seriousness of the facts of the offence and impact that they've had on the victim are significant matters," Ms Hennessy said.

She sentenced Braga to six months in prison, suspended immediately to hang over his head for 18 months, and ordered he pay $1500 compensation to the woman he assaulted.



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