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Elsternick, Melbourne: Law student demanded cops charge tradie with rape for one-night stand

A drunk law student who accused a tradie of drugging and raping her after a one-night-stand was told he had access to cocaine before going home with him, a court has heard. 

Phoenix Cooper, 23, of St Kilda East – 6km southeast of Melbourne’s CBD – had been introduced to his alleged victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, by a fellow law student mate while on a trip to the bar. 

‘He definitely has coke,’ the friend texted the woman as she left Elsternwick’s trendy Antique Bar on April 20, 2019 to share a cigar with Cooper outside. 

Phoenix Cooper, 23, (left) was represented by one of Melbourne’s top silks, Philip Dunn, QC (right). They are pictured leaving the Supreme Court of Melbourne during the trial

Phoenix Cooper was captured on CCTV canoodling with his alleged victim after leaving the Antique Bar (pictured) in Elsternwick

Phoenix Cooper was captured on CCTV canoodling with his alleged victim after leaving the Antique Bar (pictured) in Elsternwick 

Cooper has been described to a jury as being a 'bit of a bragger'. His hand is tattooed with dollar signs

Cooper has been described to a jury as being a ‘bit of a bragger’. His hand is tattooed with dollar signs 

The woman would later accuse Cooper of drugging and raping her, demanding detectives charge him even after an analysis of her blood found no traces of drugs. 

What happened in the hours after that fateful meeting is now in the hands of Supreme Court of Victoria jury, which retired to deliberate its verdict on Wednesday. 

The woman had been accused by Cooper’s barrister – Melbourne silk Philip Dunn QC – of hoping to score drugs off Cooper the night she alleges he drugged and raped her. 

The court heard the woman had engaged in a text conversation with her mate about Cooper’s supposed access to cocaine – a conversation she also claims she can’t remember having. 

The woman said while she was disturbed about her messages, she denied any suggestion that she had hoped to get high with the successful tradie, whom she had met that night. 

Cooper has pleaded not guilty to a single charge of rape, claiming he had no idea the brief sexual dalliance he shared with the drunken legal eagle was anything but consensual. 

Prosecutors had told the jury the woman did not give Cooper consent by way that she was either too drunk or asleep at the time. 

Under the law, a person cannot be convicted of rape if the jury accepts that person had a ‘reasonable belief’ that consent was given. 

The jury heard the woman claimed to have no memory of the actual act after her memory became ‘fuzzy’ just after midnight that night. 

She had gone to police with her rape claims after friends convinced her Cooper must have drugged her, the court heard.  

Phoenix Cooper admitted to his alleged victim’s friends he had had sex with her just minutes after the act. He told police the same thing. Then he was charged with raping her 

Cooper's other hand has the word 'God' tattooed on it. He had been sharing a home with a born again Christian when he allegedly raped a woman

Cooper’s other hand has the word ‘God’ tattooed on it. He had been sharing a home with a born again Christian when he allegedly raped a woman 

Cooper's alleged victim had been familiar with the Antique bar

Cooper’s alleged victim had been familiar with the Antique bar 

But when toxicology reports came back seven months later, they revealed she had simply been drunk – recording somewhere between .135 and a .204 when the alleged rape happened.

The jury heard the woman recorded a 15 out of 15 on the Glascow Coma Scale – a clinical test used to reliably measure a person’s level of consciousness after a brain injury – a little under an hour after the alleged rape. 

‘(She) thinks she’s a victim and when she finds out in November that her drink hasn’t been spiked, there aren’t any drugs, she becomes active in contacting the police,’ Mr Dunn said. 

The jury heard the victim repeatedly contacted police asking them about the investigation. 

‘She’s a victim. And she writes the note saying “I want and need him charged”. She’s making contact with the police, taking an active role in it,’ Mr Dunn said. 

‘Why does she need him charged … the defence suggests because she’s now an entrenched victim.’

The court heard Cooper had wooed the woman with tales of his window glazing business, cash and time living in New York.

His alleged victim had consumed wine and martinis off her own bat before accepting shots of cognac and whiskey from him. 

His brief liaison with the woman went pear-shaped after her friends discovered she had ‘ditched’ them at the club, along with her wallet and house keys, to go home with Cooper, whom her mate later described as ‘some random’.

The friends would arrive at Cooper’s house later that night after he and their mate had already had sex. 

In his closing address to the jury, Mr Dunn said the key issue in the trial would be the  belief of the complainant’s friend that her drink had been spiked with drugs.

‘(He) becomes convinced that she must be drink-spiked, she must be drugged to be in the apartment with Mr Cooper. Drugged,’ Mr Dunn said.

Mr Dunn told the jury the woman had been cruising dating apps while enjoying pre-clubbing drinks at her Brighton home – in Melbourne’s leafy southeast – before setting out that night.

He claimed his client was under the legitimate belief that he ‘was about to get laid’ when the woman climbed into bed with him and stripped off. 

Phoenix Cooper and Philip Dunn, QC leave the Supreme Court of Victoria last month

Phoenix Cooper and Philip Dunn, QC leave the Supreme Court of Victoria last month

Moments earlier she had accidentally climbed into the bed of Cooper’s born-again Christian housemate after a trip to the toilet. 

Mr Dunn urged the jury to consider what his client must have thought after picking-up a woman at a bar, kissing her and winding up in bed with her. 

‘You’re fond of this person, you’re feeling affectionate towards him and the phone rings and the person says “No, I’m not coming home, I’m going to stay here”,’ Mr Dunn said. 

‘What do you think? You think they want to stay with you, in a bedroom … they start kissing, she takes her jeans off and then her panties, that it’s a reasonable thing for him to think that she’s up for sex? 

‘And anybody in his situation would think that … anybody in his situation, as he said to the police, “I’m going to get laid”. We say that’s a pretty fair thing to think. And then she gets on top of him.’

Mr Dunn described the case as unusual because the complainant claims not to  remember what happened. 

‘She is a fortunate young woman. She’s privately educated, she’s gone to a good university, she’s got a job and she’s got good friends and the world is at her feet,’ Mr Dunn said. 

‘He is a very different sort of person. He’s got tattoos. She and her friend’s are close, he’s probably different to them … Your verdict has nothing to do with (her) and her status and her job as a lawyer and she as a person.’

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