Victims recall fear caused by ‘that creepy guy’ in 2012 attacks

Two women raped by a man in separate suburban attacks eight months apart have told a court of the fear they endured in the years after the crimes.

The women were walking in Elwood on nights in February and October 2012, when Justin Mathieson followed, grabbed, overpowered and then raped them. He told the second woman he would stab her with a pair of scissors if she tried to run, the County Court heard.

Justin Mathieson raped two women in Elwood in 2012.Credit:Nine News

Both women reported seeing Mathieson before their attacks, prosecutor Neill Hutton said.

The victims watched Friday’s plea hearing on video links and spoke of the enduring fear that ran through their lives as they waited for their attacker to be caught.

Mathieson lived in nearby St Kilda at the time but wasn’t arrested until last year, when police matched his DNA to the Elwood attacks. In 2019 he assaulted two girls in separate incidents and avoided jail.

The first of the women wiped away tears as she recalled “a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach” when she saw “that creepy guy” wearing a sarong when she was minutes from her home, having seen him several hours earlier while walking with a friend.

The woman, then aged in her 40s, heard someone running behind her and was grabbed and forced to the ground.

“Today when I hear the sound of running feet I will myself turn around and face what is coming my way,” she said.

“I have startled many innocent men and women with the intensity of me turning to face them.”

The woman said she felt powerless during the attack and hated that she didn’t fight back, but was thankful for “a good set of lungs”, as two women and a man responded to her screams and scared Mathieson away.

She said reliving the ordeal was re-traumatising more than nine years on, after her hard work in putting the attack behind her, which included moving to another country. She thanked police for catching Mathieson and for the compassion and support they showed her.

The second victim estimated she lost five years of her life from her early 30s, as she became housebound, socially isolated and anxious in social settings, in taxis, on public transport and with male work colleagues.

She considered suicide, no longer ran or walked for pleasure and spent thousands of dollars on medical bills for stress conditions, sickness and physical fatigue.

“I feel like I wasted the best years of my life, alone and doing nothing,” she wrote in an impact statement.

Her social isolation meant she didn’t have a partner and now faced the prospect of not having children, a consequence she described as “devastating”.

Mathieson, now 32, has pleaded guilty to four counts of rape and charges of indecent assault and threatening to inflict serious injury.

He was a drug user in 2012, was diagnosed with schizophrenia years afterwards and, defence lawyer Rishi Nathwani said, had undergone treatment for his “sexual urgings”.

Mr Nathwani conceded a substantial prison term was appropriate and said Mathieson acknowledged the impact his crimes had on the women and had expressed remorse to a psychiatrist.

The defence lawyer described the attacks as opportunistic and not premeditated, but Mr Hutton countered there was some planning as Mathieson saw both women well before he grabbed them.

Judge Amanda Chambers will sentence in October.

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