Cairns man Luke Brandon Sturt Bartlett has pleaded not guilty to sexual assault and rape charges.
Cairns man Luke Brandon Sturt Bartlett has pleaded not guilty to sexual assault and rape charges.

Qld man on trial over backpacker sexual assault

A CAIRNS man has denied sexually assaulting two Swedish backpackers as he massaged their half-naked bodies.

Luke Brandon Sturt Bartlett had allowed the girls to stay at his three-storey Parramatta Park home in late 2017 just days after they flew into the city.

They had met on a tour on November 24, which had been run by Mr Bartlett, and he invited them to a barbecue at his house the next night.

The Cairns District Court heard that after one of the girls went to lay down because she was feeling ill, Mr Bartlett offered to give the other woman a massage.

"He kept asking and she eventually agreed," Crown Prosecutor Eddie Coker said.

She claimed that as he was massaging her legs he touched her genitals outside her underwear more than once and he squeezed her breasts. Mr Bartlett denies the allegations absolutely.

The next day the girls moved their stuff to his home to stay. On November 28, their last night, he gave both girls a massage.

The court heard that he allegedly sexually assaulted the same girl in the same way and then afterwards, while massaging the other woman he performed oral sex and touched her genitals while she was asleep and that she woke up during the acts.

Defence barrister Craig Eberhardt said Mr Bartlett denies the allegations made by the first woman, but that there was an issue on whether the second had consented or whether or not his client "held an honest belief on reasonable grounds that she was consenting".

"The truth is never more difficult to discern than when alcohol and young people and sex are involved," Mr Eberhardt said.

The court heard that there were some inconsistencies in what the woman involved in the earlier allegations said then and what she says now.

Mr Eberhardt said she had initially said that Mr Bartlett "once went too close… but unsure if it was done on purpose".

Mr Eberhardt also told the court that there was a discrepancy on when that first woman told her friend about the incident.

Mr Bartlett has pleaded not guilty to five counts of sexual assault and one count of rape. The trial continues today.