April 2023

Woman raped while unconscious is contacted by predator on Facebook years after attack

A woman who was raped at student accommodation while unconscious was contacted by the convicted paedophile on Facebook years later as he wanted to “get closure”, a court heard.

Nathan Thorburn, 25, raped the victim in Cardiff in 2019 and during the attack, she woke up in pain, discovering he was forcing himself upon her.

The predator apologised the next day but did not refer to what had happened

Years later, Thorburn contacted the woman on Facebook and asked to discuss what happened so he could “get closure”.

The victim accused him of “massaging his ego” by turning to the woman he raped in order to absolve his guilt and told him: “You and I both know what you did to me. You are a rapist.”

Cardiff Crown Court heard the victim was intoxicated after a night out and Thorburn offered to put her to bed when she returned to the accommodation block.

However, by that time she was passing in and out of consciousness and at times thought the defendant was her boyfriend.

Prosecutor James Wilson said the victim fell asleep but was unaware Thorburn was on top of her.

The barrister said the woman “was in pain and wanted to scream” but could “only manage a whimper” and told him to stop. In the meantime, she was confused about what was happening to her.

Speaking to the police after the incident, the victim said she was unaware of the full extent of what Thorburn had done to her, adding she did not know if he was wearing a condom.

She added she felt “defiled, dirty, vile, and disgusting” about what the defendant had done and “felt like a corpse” while it was happening.

The next day Thorburn made a vague apology but did not say what he was sorry for. The victim told her sister about what had happened but had resolved to “take it to her grave”.

Thorburn was sent to prison in 2019 for an unrelated matter and was made subject to a sexual harm prevention order (SHPO).

Following his release from prison he contacted the victim in 2022 on Facebook Messenger, writing: “Hey. Can we talk? I wanted to talk about the situation about me and you before I went to prison. I think I knew what I did was wrong and I want some sort of closure I guess. I think it’s good to talk about these things with that person to be sure about this. Things have been going on in my mind for a long time that I want to put to rest.”

Upon receiving the message the victim was angry that Thorburn had contacted her and asked her to absolve him of guilt for raping her. Her response read: “I don’t even know where to begin. I can give you closure in one simple sentence. You are a rapist.

“First, you even messaging me is incredibly selfish and self-serving. I reread the message you sent and can count how many times you say ‘I’. You want closure because it’s playing on your mind? You want to get closure for assaulting me when I was drunk, passed out, and vulnerable and put me to bed. I will never get closure. For me it will last a lifetime.”

Thorburn responded to the message making admissions to raping the victim but she had blocked him. He compiled the messages in a document which he circulated to a sexual assault referral service as well as other agencies.

The document was picked up by the defendant’s offender manager who visited him on June 13 last year. The victim was later identified and formally interviewed.

The defendant, of Kingsway, Cardiff, was arrested and later pleaded guilty to rape and breach of a SHPO after he was found to have deleted his internet history.

The court heard he had previous convictions for accessing indecent images of children having first been convicted in 2019 for accessing 14 Category A images, 19 Category B images, and 149 Category C images.

He was later convicted on another count of accessing indecent photos of a child in January 2020 as well as a breach of a SHPO having viewed images of children being raped and admitting he “got a thrill” from doing so.

In a statement she read out to the court the victim said the rape had affected her “emotionally and socially”. She said: “I feel Nathan has taken control of the situation for three years. I feel now I want to be in control. What has happened to me has a lifelong effect. If Nathan is sent to prison for this he won’t suffer for a lifetime like I have to.

“Nathan choosing to rape me is a lifelong scab I will pick at forever and forever. I was a trusting and caring person; I was soft and gentle in my approach to people and life. Because of what he’s done to me I have turned to someone who is hardened. I can’t feel emotions towards people. It breaks my heart because this isn’t me. I can’t trust anyone anymore. It’s exhausting and draining to feel like this – constantly having my guard up. I am a broken shell of the woman I once was and woman I was going to be.”

The victim said Thorburn messaging her had “felt like a punch to the gut” and he had only thought of himself by asking her to “absolve him of the harm he caused”.

Sentencing Thorburn Judge Tracey Lloyd-Clarke told him that his victim had been “extremely confused about what was going on” during the attack but his actions had had “a devastating impact on her and her life”.

Describing him as a “dangerous offender” she also said in her sentencing remarks that he “must have known [he] would cause significant distress” by contacting her years later.

She added: “You did a terrible thing to [your victim]. She will have to live with the consequences for the rest of her life. Nothing was her fault. The fault, responsibility, and blame is all yours.”

Thorburn was handed a 13-year extended sentence comprising a custodial term of nine years with an extended licence period of four years.

He will serve two-thirds of the custodial element of the sentence before becoming eligible for parole. If he is released he will serve the remaining period of the custodial sentence on licence before serving the extended licence period.

He was also made subject to a restraining order prohibiting him from contacting or approaching the victim or entering any premises where she lives, works, or studies. He will now be on the sex offenders’ register for life