While a spider bite turned Spiderman into a hero, an Australian man claimed a bite from a funnel-web spider made him a rapist.
Philip Ronald Spiers kidnapped and raped a supermarket checkout operator in 1997. Waiting for the young woman outside a Maitland supermarket, he threatened her with a knife before drugging, binding and kidnapping her. After driving her to a secluded location, he raped her. Then, to cover her tracks, he had her washed in methylated spirits. Finally, he left her tied up in her car's boot on a hot day before calling her family.
AdvertisementNow, Spiers, 41, has been sentenced to a minimum of six years in prison. Accordingly, Spiers had shown himself at a hospital 12 days before the offence, claiming to have been bitten by a spider. He was then treated with anti-venom before being discharged. Yet, he returned shortly complaining of headaches and sensitivity to light. He was diagnosed with possible viral meningitis, and discharged four days later.
In spite of this excuse, District Court Judge Peter Berman, yesterday found Spiers had not committed the crimes because he was bitten by a spider, or had a viral illness, but plainly because he wanted sex. "What makes crimes such as those ... particularly frightening is that, realistically, there is nothing that a woman can do to avoid it, short of never being in public alone, a clearly unrealistic alternative," Judge Berman was quoted.
The woman had been locked in the boot of the car for about two hours before she was found. Spiers had rung her mother and told her where the car could be found. There was no evidence Spiers felt sorry for the woman, said the judge as he withdrew money from her bank account with her ATM card over the following days.
Spiers was caught in 2005 after he refused to appear in a television ad for his employer. His female friend recollected having being told: "I did something a long time ago that I am not proud of and I don't want to be put in a position that I could be recognized."
Judge Berman ruled that Spiers was now remorseful , had pleaded guilty and was unlikely to reoffend.