Claire looking for closure

FINAL BATTLE? Claire McFarlane of Byron Bay is fighting a court case in France.
FINAL BATTLE? Claire McFarlane of Byron Bay is fighting a court case in France. Doug Eaton

FOR a decade, Claire McFarlane pushed back the memories of the extremely violent sexual assault that left her for dead on a street in Paris in 1999.

Then, nearly 10 years to the day later, DNA evidence was produced that led to the capture and jailing of the Byron Bay woman's attacker.

While those court proceedings were finalised in 2011, now, almost 16 years after her attack, Claire must return to France to testify for a second time and re-live the assault all over again.

This time her story will be told during an appeal to recoup half of the $30,000 she has spent in legal costs - and her lawyers have also told her there is a chance her assailant may have been given parole after having only served three years of a 12-year sentence.

"Criminal proceedings in France are civil and it is the victim's responsibility to prosecute and pay for all costs associated," Claire said.

This next round of court attendance is likely to cost $4000 to $6000, and before Claire flies to Paris on Monday, she is holding a fundraiser for herself as well as for local services for victims of sexual assault.

Claire was only 21 when she was assaulted.

An unfunded foreign arts student working in a bar to pay her way, the man attacked her on her way home from work and was so violent Claire spent the next three months in hospital recovering from her injuries.

It turns out that the rapist had attacked in the same area a month before Claire was assaulted, but had not been caught.

After the attack, Claire discovered support for sexual assault victims in Paris was minimal, especially for foreigners.

Despite her ordeal, she agreed to take the matter to court 10 years later as the DNA evidence appeared, not knowing the legal hurdles that would await her in France's complex system where the matter had to be run as a civil case, at the victim's expense.

"I had no idea what I was in for (with the court case) but I felt like it was an opportunity to put this behind me," she said.

"It took two-and-a-half years to get to court and there were lots of times where I wanted to give up - but I needed justice to be done.

"It was the hardest thing I have ever had to do.

"I feel that I have completed a civil duty by taking an extremely violent man off the streets of Paris so that he does not hurt any more women."

The last leg of that fight for justice happens next week. Whatever the outcome, Claire said it will "mark the end" for her, and that she hoped telling her story would help other survivors of rape and assault find strength.

"When I told my story in front of the jury in 2011, I felt as if this huge weight had been lifted from me."


To help Claire with her costs

Donate to Claire's GoFundMe campaign at:

Join in a day of workouts for every level at Crossfit Byron Bay from 9am tomorrow. Raffles, BBQ, beer and coffee. 12 Centennial Circuit, Arts and Industry Estate.

Funds raised at Crossfit will be shared between Claire and the Lismore Women's Health Resource Centre.

Topics:  rape sexual assault

Ho, ho, ho! Is it too early for Santa to come to town?

Santa Claus is coming to town.

Big man in red will make a (very) early appearance at Ballina

Shark issue forces school to cancel all ocean sports

NO NET GAIN: Byron Shire Mayor Simon Richardson makes his opinion clear at last weekend's No Nets Rally and turtle release at Ballina.

"There is currently an unacceptable risk", says principal

Must love beer: Is this the best North Coast job ever?

Generic beer image.

Get in quick, because this is one job offer that won't last long

Local Partners

Thriller film shot in Ballina, screening in Casino

Burning to see locally made film Burns Point? Screening at Casino RSM Club.

Ballina Prawn Festival will not be free this year

Ballina Prawn Festival 2013. Photo Mireille Merlet-Shaw / The Northern Star

This year's festival will be a ticketed event

The Living End are coming to Byron Bay

The Living End

The Living End are going on the road in 2017 for a regional tour

November will be a big month for NORPA

ARTS: NORPA has added new shows to the Dreamland season from November 23 to December 10.

Peter Garrett, Dreamland and the 2017 Season Launch, among others

The Bachelor contestants find love with each other

Former Bachelor contestants Megan Marx and Tiffany Scanlon have confirmed their relationship on social media.

MEGAN Marx and Tiffany Scanlon confirm relationship on Instagram.

Liam Payne wants to wed Cheryl Fernandez-Versini

Cheryl Fernandez-Versini and Liam Payne

Liam Payne reportedly wants to marry Cheryl Fernandez-Versini

House of ill repute set to open in Ballina next month

MORE THAN A CHICKEN RANCH: Pictured are Miss Mona (Jacquie McCalman, right)) with her girls (from left) Bronte Walsh, Abby McCalman, Jacinta Hunter, Emma Buckman and Iesha Williams in rehearsals for the Ballina Players' production of the Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.

New production of the Best Little Whorehouse in Texas

Bindi Irwin 'honoured' to make MAXIM HOT 100 list

Wildlife Warrior named among Australia's most beautiful women

Len Wiseman files for divorce from Kate Beckinsale

Kate Beckinsale

Len Wiseman has filed for divorce from Kate Beckinsale

Tough times in CBD: Woolies says goodbye Ipswich

Woolworths in the Ipswich Mall.Photo: Rob Williams / The Queensland Times

The last day of trading will be January 1

Look at me! Kath and Kim home up for sale

Kath and Kim from the iconic Aussie TV series.

'Crack open the Baileys and grab a box of BBQ Shapes'

Hinterland horse stud passed in for $8.25 million

UNREAL: This Maleny estate is incredible.

12-bedroom hinterland horse stud still available

Hit songwriter's Noosa mansion on market

SPECIAL PLACE: The Cintamani estate is going to tender, marketed by Tom Offermann Real Estate.

Is this Queensland's best property?

Kiwi siblings snap up Dotcom mansion for $32.5m

The new toy company owners of the Coatesville mansion want replace any controversy with positivity and fun. Photo / Barfoot and Thompson

The trio paid $32.5 million for the property in June

New $200 million development will create 580 jobs

Cassie And Josh with baby Alfie and daughter Andee. They have bought at new Lennox Head development Epiq.

Majority of new positions will be given to Northern Rivers locals