Michael Paul Benfell shook his head after a jury found that he let himself into a woman’s home, got into her bed and raped her.
Michael Paul Benfell shook his head after a jury found that he let himself into a woman’s home, got into her bed and raped her.

Midnight rapist broke into woman's home and abused her twice

An Adelaide man has been found guilty of brazenly letting himself into a young woman's house and raping her, after jurors rejected his claim that he had been invited inside.

Michael Paul Benfell, 26, shook his head as the unanimous verdict was delivered in the District Court on Friday afternoon.

The jury deliberated for little more than an hour after the seven-day trial, during which they heard evidence from the victim and Benfell.

Prosecutors had alleged the 26-year-old raped the woman at her home at Parkside, in Adelaide's inner south, in April 2018.

The jury heard that he entered the house shortly after midnight, quietly went into the victim's bedroom and got into her bed.

"It's the prosecution case that he raped (the victim) quickly," prosecutor Jemma Litster said in her closing address earlier this week.

"She was in the process of waking up as he did so.

"Her initial thought was that it was her boyfriend in her bed."

Michael Paul Benfell has been found guilty of two counts of rape. Picture: Nine News
Michael Paul Benfell has been found guilty of two counts of rape. Picture: Nine News

When she realised Benfell was not her boyfriend, she ran into the hallway "half naked and distressed" and raised the alarm with her two housemates.

Ms Litster said he was asked to leave but responded by saying "she let me in off the street", before he stopped to put on his shoes and then left the home.

Giving evidence earlier this week, Benfell said he met the victim at the Arkaba Hotel, at nearby Fullerton, about 10 days before the incident.

He claimed that the woman had given him her phone number and, on the night of the rape, "she offered for (him) to come over".

However, a detective investigating the case told the court phone records showed no evidence of any contact between the pair.

Matthew Mead, for Benfell, invited the jury to acquit his client because "there must be a doubt" about whether the victim truly believed it was her boyfriend who had entered the bedroom.

"The physique of the accused and the boyfriend were just too different and there simply wasn't enough time for the complainant to have been in the deep sleep she was in," he said.

But Ms Litster said Benfell's account of consensual sexual intercourse was "uncompelling".

"His evidence denying the trespass and the rape was illogical and it lacked realistic detail," she said.

"I suggest that you simply put his account of consensual sexual intercourse aside."

The jury of seven men and five women found him guilty to two counts of rape and one count of aggravated serious criminal trespass in a place of residence.

Judge Paul Slattery remanded him in custody to reappear before the court next month.

*For 24-hour sexual violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636. 

Originally published as Midnight rapist found guilty


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