Trial begins for rape accused yachtsman

A MAN accused of raping a woman who worked for him on a yacht while it sailed from the Sunshine Coast to the Whitsundays says the sex was consensual.

The trial for yachtsman John Collins, 77, began at Brisbane District Court yesterday. He has pleaded not guilty to three counts of rape and one count of sexual assault on a woman in 1986.

In the opening submissions, crown prosecutor David Nardone said the Sunshine Coast woman, who was 19-20 years old at the time, was looking for work and found a job advertised in the Sunshine Coast Daily for a tutoring position on a yacht.

The court heard that after a job interview with Mr Collins she got the job, but Mr Nardone said she did not get the fun and adventure associated with such a position.

"Instead she found herself away from family, away from home, suffering rapes and sexual assault at the hands of the man in the dock, the man who gave her the job, John Collins," he said.

But defence barrister Callan Cassidy said they had formed a relationship while preparing for the trip.

He also said the woman regularly stayed in Mr Collins' cabin on the yacht.

Mr Cassidy said defence witnesses, who would be called during the trial, recalled moving the woman's bags out of Mr Collins' cabin.

"It was consensual," he said.

But Mr Nardone said as the yacht sailed from the Sunshine Coast to Bundaberg, Mr Collins allegedly made sexual advances and requested sex from the woman, which she refused.

While staying in Bundaberg, Mr Nardone said Mr Collins allegedly bought an outfit for the woman.

It is also alleged the yacht stopped at Great Keppel Island before sailing to a deserted island, where it is alleged the first rape occurred.

"In order to get what it was that he wanted, he threatened to harm (the victim's) parents," Mr Nardone told the court. "He had told her that he knew bad people capable of hurting them."

Once the yacht reached Hamilton Island, the woman allegedly managed to catch a ferry to Airlie Beach, when she called her parents and caught a bus back to the Sunshine Coast.

It is expected Mr Collins will give evidence today.

The trial continues.


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