Twist on rape case that rocked town
A rape conviction that ripped apart the small country town of Balmoral has been quashed and a new trial ordered on the basis of fresh evidence.
Shaun Bloomfield and Luke Merryfull were convicted in April 2019 of raping a friend at a party in April 2016 when they were both 21.
It was alleged they asked her for a threesome and when she said no, took turns raping her in a caravan that she had lain down in to sleep.
Mr Merryfull's footy club provided a character reference, among those supplied for both alleged rapists by figures in the town about four hours west of Melbourne with a population of about 200.
The courtroom during the 2019 trial was filled with their supporters from Balmoral who had travelled to hear the jury's verdict - which was that the men had raped the woman and caused her post-traumatic stress disorder and changed her life forever.
But now that conviction has been quashed on the basis of fresh evidence revealed to the Court of Appeal, which has not been publicly released.
The alleged victim may have to again give evidence in the new trial against the two men.
Bloomfield was jailed for five years and eight months with a minimum of three years and four months.
Merryfull was jailed for four years and 10 months with a minimum of two years and 10 months.
But both men will now be released into the community while they await a new trial.
Justice Mark Weinberg said he would grant bail on the condition they reside at a fixed address and not contact the alleged victim or her family.
The appeal was unanimously granted by justices Weinberg, Terrence Forrest and Richard Niall.*For 24-hour sexual violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636.
Originally published as Twist on rape case that rocked town