An Airbnb superhost who raped a woman who was a guest in his Melbourne apartment has been jailed for eight years.
- The woman had booked through Airbnb to stayed in the Melbourne apartment with a friend in 2017
- The host Nicholas David Weston raped the teenager four times while she was in his apartment
- He was found guilty of the crimes last year, and sentenced to prison today
But Nicholas David Weston, 43, could be free in less than five years if he is granted parole for crimes which the sentencing judge Frank Gucciardo called “vile”.
The Victorian County Court heard that in November 2017, the 19-year-old victim and a friend flew into Melbourne from Hobart to attend a concert and get a feel for the city as they planned on moving there.
The pair booked four nights at Weston’s CBD apartment on Elizabeth Street, which he advertised to guests as “the perfect location”.
The apartment was also his home.
On the Airbnb platform, Weston had achieved the status of superhost, which is described as “experienced hosts who provide a shining example for other hosts, and extraordinary experiences for their guests”.
But on the second night of their stay, the victim became sick after drinking and vomited on her bed.
Later that evening, Weston carried her to his room, where he raped her four times.
“She told you to leave her alone and not to touch her,” Judge Gucciardo told the court.
The victim managed to push Weston off her and, grabbing her underwear, went to her friend’s room and said she had been raped.
The pair contacted triple zero and the victim’s mother and brother.
A short time later, police arrived.
The court today heard that Weston, who pleaded not guilty to the charges, continued to claim that it was the victim who had made advances towards him.
“You maintain your innocence of these matters,” the judge said.
“The jury clearly rejected that version.”
Weston was found guilty in December last year and was remanded in custody.
His victim described the lasting and profound “damage and trauma” the offending had had on her life.
She had to move back home to Western Australia to be supported by her family and now suffers from anxiety.
“Her life has been reshaped by your vile criminality,” Judge Gucciardo said.
In her victim impact statement, the young woman told the court that she felt no sense of victory.
“Yes, his life has changed for the worse and [he] may go away for a few years,” she said.
“But I got my sentence that night, when there was no jury or judge, yet that sentence lasts the rest of my life.”
The victim’s mother spoke of how she has had to witness her energetic and outgoing daughter try to take her own life and experience night terrors.
“It feels heartbreaking to watch my child go from being such a confident young woman to now being fearful of the world and knowing that she has little power or control over what happens to her,” she said.
Today, Judge Gucciardo said Weston carried a high degree of moral culpability.
“Your age and position as a host, indeed a superhost provided a veneer of respectability, comfort and trust,” he said.
“Rape is an inherently violent act which you inflicted on your victim,” he said.
“The ongoing trauma of this offending has coloured every aspect of her life.”
Weston has already served close to five months in prison.