Just weeks after a damning WA parliamentary report into sexual harassment and assaults in the mining industry, a FIFO worker has been sentenced to 10 years in jail for repeatedly raping a colleague.
- Small and his victim worked for BHP at the time of the offenses
- The assaults occurred in Perth, when both were on rostered days off
- With time already served, he will be eligible for release in 2028
Jonathan David Small, 44, was found guilty by a District Court jury of six charges of sexually penetrating the 22-year-old woman without her consent, after they went out to dinner while they were on rostered days off in Perth.
Both worked for BHP at the time, but Small was sacked after the woman reported what happened to her superiors when she returned to her worksite, in the Pilbara, two days later.
Small was charged with eight offenses. He denied them all, maintaining the sex was consensual, but he was found guilty of six of the charges and acquired of the other two.
The court was told the sexual assaults included violence, with Small repeatedly choking, slapping, and pulling her hair, telling her “I can tell you’re not into guys.”
At one point the woman hid in the bathroom and tried to contact a friend for help but Small banged on the door and threatened to break it down.
She only came out when Small told her he would leave.
She went to bed but awoke to him undressing her before he raped her again.
The next day Small sent her text messages saying, “I’m so sorry for last night … please don’t hate me” and “no one knows … it’ll stay that way”.
Victim subjected to ‘callous’ attack
Judge Bruce Goetze described the sexual assaults as “prolonged and repeated”, saying it was “particularly callous” of Small to again rape the woman after she came out of the bathroom.
He said the comment to her about not being “into guys” was aggravating because it had the effect of denigrating and humiliating, and he also noted the assaults had involved physical force and coercion.
Judge Goetze said the woman had trusted Small as a work colleague and as a friend, but he had violated that trust in a way that would have a long-standing and emotional impact on her.
Small, who still maintains his innocence, will have to serve eight years before he can be released on parole.
With time already served he will first be eligible for release in July 2028.
Case comes in wake of damning report
The case comes just six weeks after the WA Parliament published a report into sexual assaults and harassment within the state’s mining industry.
It found both were rife in the “fly-in, fly out” workforce and that women within the industry had been subjected to what it described as “an appalling range of behaviours.”
The report, titled “Enough is Enough”, heard evidence from 55 witnesses, including women who detailed harrowing stories of their experiences.
One woman recounted being knocked unconscious in her donga and then waking up to find her jeans and underpants around her ankles.
Another testified about being told to “get on her knees” if she wanted a permanent job with a mining company.
The report contained 24 recommendations, including the setting up of an industry wide register to stop the perpetrators from working at different sites, and the establishment of a government run forum to document the experiences of victims.