Man fined for sexual assault
A SWISS tourist who sexually assaulted a woman while she slept in a tent on Fraser Island has walked away from court with a fine.
David Emannual Bigler, 23, was camping with a group of seven international tourists on the eastern beach when the incident occurred on August 27, 2009.
Bigler appeared in the Hervey Bay Magistrates Court yesterday where his rape charge was downgraded to indecent assault.
He pleaded guilty to the less serious charge.
The court heard that Bigler was sharing a tent with an Irish woman, then 23, who awoke to find that he had removed her pants and her underwear and was giving her oral sex.
The woman pushed Bigler away and ran from the tent and later abused and punched him, prosecutor Kathryn Stagoll said.
Bigler told police that he did not know she was asleep when he awoke with his arm around her.
He began to kiss her and caress her stomach and breasts before moving his hand to her genitals.
He claimed she was moaning and had even lifted her hips slightly to allow him to remove her clothing.
According to his account, it was only after she ran from the tent that he realised she may have been asleep.
Defence solicitor Brendan Ryan said Bigler had planned to sleep in a hammock that night but asked the woman if he could share her tent because it was cold and he “didn’t want to sleep outside with the dingoes”.
He said a lot of alcohol had been drunk by the group that night.
One witness told police Bigler had been “in a state of shock” following the incident and appeared upset about what had happened.
Magistrate Graeme Tatnell said that by pleading guilty Bigler had saved the community huge costs because, had the matter proceeded to trial, all the witnesses would have had to be flown in from overseas.
He fined the tourist $1000 and ordered that his passport be returned so he could go home to Switzerland.
A conviction was not recorded.