FIFO worker jailed for five years over mining camp rape

Ryan John Zabaznow has been jailed for raping a workmate at a mining camp in WA's Pilbara.

Ryan John Zabaznow has been jailed for raping a workmate at a mining camp in WA's Pilbara. Photo: AAP

A former BHP worker has been jailed for more than five years after raping a colleague at a mining camp after a night of heavy drinking.

Ryan John Zabaznow, 37, was found guilty in May of sexual penetration without consent at Newman in Western Australia’s Pilbara region on November 18, 2020.

His victim told the WA District Court she woke up to find Zabaznow raping her after she passed out inside her donga.

He denied it and said his Facebook messages showed the encounter was consensual but the jury disagreed after deliberating for about four hours.

Outside court after Zabaznow’s sentencing on Monday, the woman said she was proud her story sparked a parliamentary inquiry into sexual assault and harassment within the WA fly-in fly-out industry.

“And that it was my voice that spoke for fellow FIFO workers within the industry that felt ashamed alone and too scared to come forward at the time,” she told reporters.

“That man not only took away my happiness and my happy go lucky personality with what he did, but he took away my career, my goals and my aspirations.”

The court was told the pair had been drinking with other FIFO workers at the camp’s bar before the assault and continued socialising when it closed.

Zabaznow and the woman shared an intimate conversation about their past relationships before drinking outside the woman’s donga with other colleagues.

As the night wore on the woman, who said she drank about 15 mid-strength beers, started to feel unwell.

A friend put her to bed after she vomited and she passed out.

The jury heard Zabaznow entered the woman’s room and climbed into her bed after her friend left the scene.

The woman told the jury she woke while Zabaznow was raping her.

She said she was initially not sure what was happening and started to cry.

The attack stopped when two other workers heard “sex noises and moaning” and knocked on the woman’s door to check if she was OK.

They found Zabaznow in the woman’s bed.

Judge Linda Petrusa told him his actions had a profound and pervasive effect on his victim’s life.

“You made a deliberate decision to take advantage of her for your own sexual gratification,” the judge said.

“Whilst it is true you did not use any violence, you didn’t have to.

“She was sleeping the sleep of the inebriated when you started.

“And although she woke, the fear and/or shock paralysed her and force was not necessary.”

BHP said in May it took courage and bravery for the woman to speak out about her “traumatic” experience and the company continued to support her.

“Sexual violence is completely unacceptable and has no place in our communities or in our workplaces,” a spokeswoman said.

“At BHP, we are determined to eliminate it from our workplaces and we are committed to creating a culture that is safe, inclusive and respectful at all times.”

BHP sacked Zabaznow in December 2020 after an internal investigation.

Zabaznow was sentenced to five years and two months’ jail and must serve three years before being eligible for parole.


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