Newcastle bucks weekend rape trial: Alleged victim tells jury a harrowing account of how a drink at a pub turned into a nightmare: ‘Swarm of people around me’

One of three women who say they were gang raped by a groom and his friends on a bucks weekend has told a jury about feeling a ‘swarm of people around me’.

The woman, who was 18 at the time of the alleged rapes, gave evidence against her accused attackers in Sydney’s Downing Centre District Court on Wednesday.

Maurice Hawell, his brother Marius Hawell and their friend Andrew David have pleaded not guilty to charges including aggravated sexual assault in company.

David and Maurice Hawell say any sex they had was consensual and deny performing certain acts, while Marius Hawell insists he did not take part in any sexual activity.

Their accusers are unable to identify who committed each alleged act against them but the three men are facing trial together on the basis they engaged in a joint criminal enterprise. 

Maurice Howell was 27, his brother 20 and David 28 when they travelled from Sydney to Newcastle in February 2022 with six other men ahead of the older Hawell’s wedding.

Three men accused of gang rape on a bucks weekend at an Airbnb apartment met their first alleged victims – two 18-year-old friends – at a nearby pub. Maurice Hawell (pictured) has pleaded not guilty to 11 charges involving three women

They are accused of raping three teenagers, Miss A, Miss B and Miss C, during the course of the bucks weekend between Friday, February 22 and the next evening. 

The group booked a three-bedroom Airbnb apartment for the occasion and on the Friday night some of them headed out to the nearby Cambridge Hotel.

At the pub one of the group, ‘Matt’, met Miss A and her 18-year-old friend Miss B, who had joined three other mates at the Hunter Street venue. 

Matt is not accused of having committed any wrongdoing at any time. Miss A did not know the names of any of his friends but the Crown says he was at the pub with the Hawells and David. 

Miss A, who gave her evidence over audio-visual link, had kissed Matt, who bought her a can of Smirnoff Ice Double Black vodka and citrus flavoured soda.

The pair parted ways and Miss A hit the dance floor where she had an ecstasy cap, her second of the evening. 

‘I was just on the dance floor with friends, dancing, singing, having a good time,’ Miss A told the jury.

Andrew David (pictured) and brothers Maurice and Marius Hawell were among a group of nine men who rented a three-bedroom property in the NSW Hunter Valley two years ago. David has pleaded not guilty to raping three women he met that weekend

Andrew David (pictured) and brothers Maurice and Marius Hawell were among a group of nine men who rented a three-bedroom property in the NSW Hunter Valley two years ago. David has pleaded not guilty to raping three women he met that weekend

When Miss A next saw Matt he was with one of his group and invited her back to their rented Parry Street apartment.

‘I said only if my friend [Miss B] can come because I don’t want to go alone,’ Miss A told Matt.

The court has previously heard Maurice Hawell asked Ms B about the same time if she wanted to go back to the Airbnb. 

Miss A, who had consumed a third Smirnoff on top of two cans of rum and Coke before going to the Cambridge, said she left the hotel with Matt, two of his friends and Miss B.

‘I was starting to slur my words but I still felt in control,’ she told the jury.

Once inside the apartment, Miss A said Miss B went into a bedroom with a man the Crown says is Maurice Hawell and she went into another bedroom with Matt.

Miss A said she and Matt got on the bed and began chatting ‘just to get to know each other’, then started kissing.

‘There was foreplay then we had sex,’ she said.

The Hawell brothers and Andrew David met two 18-year-old women at the Cambridge Hotel in Newcastle who came back to their rented apartment. Marius Hawell (pictured) insists he engaged in no sexual acts

The Hawell brothers and Andrew David met two 18-year-old women at the Cambridge Hotel in Newcastle who came back to their rented apartment. Marius Hawell (pictured) insists he engaged in no sexual acts

Miss A said after the pair had sex the door opened and a man the Crown says is Maurice Hawell walked into the room naked.

‘[The naked man] just kept saying, “Can I join you and Matt?’ and ‘I’m a better root than Matt”,’ she said. 

‘I can’t remember exactly what I said but I know I said no.’

Miss A said the man the Crown alleges is Maurice Hawell put his hand on her upper left thigh before Matt told him to leave.

Maurice Hawell had already had consensual sex with Miss B, who had also had consensual sex with Andrew David.  

Miss A said she found Miss B in the kitchen and the pair went into the bathroom where they discussed feeling ‘uncomfortable’.

The two women then went into the bedroom where Miss A and Matt had previously had sex to collect their phones and the light was turned off, Miss A said.

‘I just felt a swarm of people around me,’ she told the jury. ‘At first I thought Matt was in there so I didn’t immediately react.’

The bucks group booked a three-bedroom Airbnb apartment ahead of Maurice Hawell's wedding  and on the Friday night some of them headed out to the nearby Cambridge Hotel

The bucks group booked a three-bedroom Airbnb apartment ahead of Maurice Hawell’s wedding  and on the Friday night some of them headed out to the nearby Cambridge Hotel

Miss A said she was forced onto the bed on her back. ‘My shirt was untied and my skirt was pulled up,’ she said. 

Miss A said she was then subjected to a series of sexual assaults by three men who she could not identify but the Crown says were the Hawell brothers and David.

‘I just yelled out, “Where’s Matt?”,’ she said. ‘I had multiple people respond that “I’m Matt”. I asked about three or four times where Matt was.

‘I just felt like everyone that was in the room said, “I’m Matt”.’

Miss A said at some point Matt entered the bedroom and she asked him, ‘Can you get your friend off me?’

‘He spoke a different language I didn’t know to his friends. He just kept asking if I was OK. I said, “Yes, I’m OK” and I asked where [Miss B] was.’

‘[Miss B] responded and said, “I’m here”. She was on the bed next to me.’

The Crown case is that Miss B had also been subjected to non-consensual sex acts by the men.

Maurice Hawell (pictured) is charged with eight counts of aggravated sexual assault in company and one count each of aggravated sexually touching another person and attempted aggravated sexual assault in company

Maurice Hawell (pictured) is charged with eight counts of aggravated sexual assault in company and one count each of aggravated sexually touching another person and attempted aggravated sexual assault in company

Miss A said she told Miss B they had to get out of the apartment because it was ‘all weird’, before they passed three naked men in the kitchen.

The two women returned to the Cambridge with Matt, who she kissed on the dance floor after meeting up with the rest of their friends.

Miss A said she told her friends about having sex with Matt but did not mention being assaulted by anyone. 

‘I just kept the whole group thing to myself,’ she told the jury. ‘I was embarrassed and ashamed of what had happened.’ 

Miss A said she exchanged phone numbers and Snapchat details with Matt and days later sent him naked pictures of herself. 

‘I still wanted to get to know him,’ she said. ‘He was still cool and funny.’

Under cross-examination by Maurice Hawell’s barrister Richard Pontello SC, Miss A said she did not go to the police until they contacted her on March 8, about two weeks after the alleged rapes.

Marius Hawell (pictured) is charged with six counts of aggravated sexual assault in company and one count each of aggravated sexually touching another person and attempted aggravated sexual assault in company

Later that day Miss A sent Miss B a series of text messages including a note saying, ‘I thought it was funny and all that until now realising how dangerous and serious it is’.

Miss A denied telling a friend before she left the Cambridge, ‘I’m going back to these guys’ hotel, I’m going to get a root’.

She also denied Miss B having said, ‘I’m going back with [Miss A] to get a root as well’.

Miss A agreed with Mr Pontello she was ‘keen and down for whatever was going to happen’ with Matt but said that was not going to include group sex with Miss B.

She could not recall having the following conversation with a friend at at the Cambridge after she returned from the apartment.

Friend: ‘What did you guys get up to?’

Miss A: ‘Yeah, we f***ed. It was really good with Matt. But there was like an orgy happening. There were so many guys there it was crazy.’ 

Miss B: ‘Yeah, it was crazy’.

Asked if she might not have made a statement about the matter unless contacted by police, Miss A said ‘Correct’.

Maurice Hawell and David are charged with eight counts of aggravated sexual assault in company and one count each of aggravated sexually touching another person and attempted aggravated sexual assault in company. 

Marius Hawell is charged with six counts of aggravated sexual assault in company and one count each of aggravated sexually touching another person and attempted aggravated sexual assault in company. 

The trial before Judge Gina O’Rourke continues.

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