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Sex attacker gets bond

A BRITISH national working and staying in Byron Bay was convicted on Friday in Lismore Local Court of indecently assaulting a 20-year-old woman also from Britain and travelling in Australia.

Airan Daniel Bernsen, 32, of Surrey in England, met the young woman briefly in Britain in December last year.

They exchanged phone numbers and a few messages via Facebook.

Bernsen was living and working at the Arts Factory at Byron Bay when the young woman arrived to stay at the Arts Factory on May 26 this year.

The next day she and Bernsen shared a few drinks with a group of people at the Arts Factory before the pair walked to the Railway Bar at Bernsen's suggestion.

A short time later they left that venue and walked to the Beach Hotel.

Police facts tendered to the court indicated both had drunk an unknown amount of alcohol.

Around 1am Bernsen suggested they buy a bottle of red wine and go for a walk along Belongil Beach.

As they were walking the woman received text messages with upsetting news.

Bernsen and the woman drank the wine and sat on the sand.

Bernsen began kissing the woman, who refused his advances. He then lay across her and indecently assaulted her.

Distraught, the woman returned to her accommodation and rang a friend and the next day she reported the incident to Byron Bay police.

Soon after the incident Bernsen apologised to the woman for his behaviour in person and also in a letter in which he described his actions as irresponsible and a result of his misreading the situation.

Bernsen's defence lawyer, Megan Cusack, said he had no previous criminal record, had entered an early plea to the charge and had showed remorse before police became involved in the matter.

“In a normal situation he would be on his way home now,” she said.

A representative of the Director of Public Prosecution said the offence was serious, pointing out how much older Bernsen was than his victim.

Magistrate Nick Reimer said it was not an easy matter to deal with.

“The girl is still getting over this and still suffering its effects,” he said.

“These circumstances need to be taken into account.

“In other states of Australia imprisonment in varying degrees is the outcome.”

Mr Reimer said Bernsen was unable to return to Britain until the matter was finalised.

“And following these proceedings you will be unceremoniously told to go,” he said.

Mr Reimer placed Bernsen on a two-year good behaviour bond.



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