Boy, 10, charged over alleged sexual assault of woman in Cairns

Fraser Barton and Laine Clark with Georgina Noack
The Nightly
3 Min Read
An Italian tourist has allegedly been sexually assaulted in the Cairns CBD.
An Italian tourist has allegedly been sexually assaulted in the Cairns CBD. Credit: Dan Peled/AAP

A 10-year-old boy charged with sexually assaulting a woman in far north Queensland has been released from custody.

The juvenile was charged with several offences — including a count of sexual assault, common assault, and assault occasioning bodily harm whilst in company — after the 23-year-old woman was allegedly assaulted in the Cairns CBD on Wednesday morning.

The boy was later released from custody to his home after being dealt with under the Youth Justice Act, which means he will not attend court.

Sign up to The Nightly's newsletters.

Get the first look at the digital newspaper, curated daily stories and breaking headlines delivered to your inbox.

Email Us
By continuing you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy.

But the woman he allegedly assaulted, Italian tourist Maira Cappiello, says the incident has made her want to leave the city she has called a “home away from home” for the past two years.

“That was until yesterday, because now I just feel like I want to go,” Ms Cappiello, who has been in Australia for five years, told ABC News.

“It’s the most unsafe place at the moment for me.”

Italian tourist Maira Cappiello has spoken about her alleged sexual assault by a 10-year-old boy on a Cairns street.
Italian tourist Maira Cappiello has spoken about her alleged sexual assault by a 10-year-old boy on a Cairns street. Credit: ABC

The 23-year-old said she was walking down Lake Street in the Cairns CBD at about 10am on Wednesday when she “felt a hand going under my skirt and pinching my bum”.

“In that moment I reacted straight away and I turned to see who was it, because I really felt it, and it seemed like everyone was doing their own business, so I didn’t understand what was happening,” Ms Cappiello said.

“And then I saw this young boy laughing.”

She said chased after the boy, asking him to apologise; but as she confronted him, a group of juveniles confronted her.

Ms Cappiello warned them she was calling the police — who reportedly told her to enter a shop for safety — but the situation escalated when the group set upon her.

A 10-year-old boy was charged with sexually assaulting a 23-year-old woman in Cairns. Police say the alleged assault happened in the pedestrian mall on Lake Street and Shields Street on Wednesday.
Police say the alleged assault happened in the pedestrian mall on Lake Street and Shields Street. Credit: Google Maps

And yet, despite the alleged assault happening in broad daylight and surrounded by “many people”, the 23-year-old felt “alone” until two men intervened.

She called on the Cairns community to help people in situations like she was in “because there is nothing worse than feeling alone, while feeling pain and being attacked.”

In an update on Thursday, Queensland Police Detective Inspector Kevin Goan said it would have been a “traumatic experience” for Ms Cappiello.

“It would’ve been a frightening situation for her,” he said.

“The young age of the offenders is abhorrent. People are entitled to go about their business in our community.”

A female associate described as “one of the other main offenders” in the incident has also been dealt with and released under the Youth Justice Act; Mr Goan said three other people were yet to be dealt with.

Queensland police said the investigation was ongoing and they were still looking for a number of people allegedly involved in the incident.

Anyone with information is urged to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence hotline: 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732).

Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800.

— with AAP

Latest Edition

The front page of The Nightly for 21-05-2024

Latest Edition

Edition Edition 21 May 202421 May 2024

The PM, the terrorist and the A-list barrister demanding war crimes charges.