‘They trusted him’: Victims slept while raped by tattooist
A Sunshine Coast detective who spent four months combing through a rapist's vile recordings was able to break the news to his victims that he had been jailed.
Detective Senior Constable of Nambour Criminal Investigation Branch Gary Purtell said Mark Dominic Bickel, who secretly filmed young girls in a shower and raped two women while they slept, was given a justified sentence.
Bickel was sentenced to eight and a half years' jail in the Brisbane Supreme Court on Wednesday after pleading guilty to more than 40 offences he committed between 2014 and 2018.
Two young girls, a man and six women aged up to 48 were preyed on by Sunshine Coast man, Bickel, who recorded his depraved sexual attacks on a hard drive
More than 203 recordings, including footage of three rapes, were found by a landlord organised in files with "disgusting and demeaning" labels, after Bickel, 51, was evicted from his Mountain Creek home in July last year.
"I thought that was a bit of justice for the victims of course and reflected the offending he committed," Senior Constable Purtell said.
Snr Cst Purtell said after meeting the landlord and receiving the hard drives, he then delved into the tedious process of identifying the victims.
Snr Cst Purtell then had to tell Bickel's victims the distressing news of their assaults, none of who had any idea of the vile acts that had happened to them.
"It happened in their sleep so they didn't even know it happened, they (allegedly) might have been under," he said.
"They were just going about their normal lives and then they were pretty much turned upside down once they found out.
"Some were a bit dubious but they really just had no idea.
"Some of them were like quite close to him, they trusted him."
In Bickel's sentencing on Wednesday, Crown prosecutor Carly Whelan described how the two women he had raped, aged in their 20s, had visited Bickel to get tattoos and had fallen asleep in his loungeroom.
Ms Whelan said Bickel had prepared one woman a coffee and given the other alcohol before they fell asleep, prompting Justice Peter Applegarth to ask if there was any evidence that they had been drugged.
"There isn't sufficient evidence to substantiate any stupefying charge," Ms Whelan said.
On one occasion Bickel filmed a young girl while she showered and then three years later, gave that girl the drug ice before giving her a tattoo.
He also sexually assaulted other associates and tattoo clients when they slept at his house.
Snr Cst Purtell said the footage was taken from covert cameras Bickel had hidden around the house in the guise of towel hooks and makeup mirrors in the bedrooms and bathrooms.
"It can only be described as sneaky," Snr Cst Purtell said.
"It's places where you'd expect to be given some privacy."
Snr Cst Purtell said it didn't appear Bickel was too worried about getting caught, having left the hard drives behind after he was evicted.
"That was a bad mistake for him," he said.
"It's obviously helpful that a lot of the sexual offences were corroborated by video so there was always going to be a pretty strong case against him."
A statement written by one of the rape victims was read in court and spoke of the betrayal she felt as a result of his "sick fantasies".
She also described the terrible moment she watched footage of herself being abused.
"To have my mother sitting next to me watching your footage of myself was shattering, she will never forget it," the woman said.
"You used me at vulnerable times thinking it would be a secret forever, how quickly things can turn."
Snr Cst Purtell said telling the victims that their predator had been brought to justice was always a rewarding part of the job.
"They were quite happy, they were hoping for a decent sentence," he said.
"A lot of the times with cases like this that go to trial victims are put through the court process, cross examined and made to feel like you've done something wrong.
"They were grateful that they didn't have to through that.
"They're just happy the process is over and they can now move on with their lives."
Sunshine Coast Criminal Investigation Branch officer-in-charge Daren Edwards said Snr Cst Purtell was to be commended for his tenacity.
Bickel will be eligible for parole on May 14, 2022.
*For 24-hour sexual violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636.
*For 24-hour support in Queensland phone DVConnect on 1800 811 811, MensLine on 1800 600 636 or the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732.